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´╗┐Title: Emma
Author: Austen, Jane, 1775-1817
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Emma" ***

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EMMA

BY

JANE AUSTEN



VOLUME I



CHAPTER I


Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and
happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of
existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very
little to distress or vex her.

She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most affectionate,
indulgent father; and had, in consequence of her sister's marriage,
been mistress of his house from a very early period.  Her mother had
died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance
of her caresses; and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman
as governess, who had fallen little short of a mother in affection.

Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been in Mr. Woodhouse's family, less as a
governess than a friend, very fond of both daughters, but particularly
of Emma.  Between _them_ it was more the intimacy of sisters.  Even
before Miss Taylor had ceased to hold the nominal office of governess,
the mildness of her temper had hardly allowed her to impose any
restraint; and the shadow of authority being now long passed away, they
had been living together as friend and friend very mutually attached,
and Emma doing just what she liked; highly esteeming Miss Taylor's
judgment, but directed chiefly by her own.

The real evils, indeed, of Emma's situation were the power of having
rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too
well of herself; these were the disadvantages which threatened alloy to
her many enjoyments.  The danger, however, was at present so
unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as misfortunes with
her.

Sorrow came--a gentle sorrow--but not at all in the shape of any
disagreeable consciousness.--Miss Taylor married.  It was Miss Taylor's
loss which first brought grief.  It was on the wedding-day of this
beloved friend that Emma first sat in mournful thought of any
continuance.  The wedding over, and the bride-people gone, her father
and herself were left to dine together, with no prospect of a third to
cheer a long evening.  Her father composed himself to sleep after
dinner, as usual, and she had then only to sit and think of what she
had lost.

The event had every promise of happiness for her friend.  Mr. Weston
was a man of unexceptionable character, easy fortune, suitable age, and
pleasant manners; and there was some satisfaction in considering with
what self-denying, generous friendship she had always wished and
promoted the match; but it was a black morning's work for her.  The
want of Miss Taylor would be felt every hour of every day.  She
recalled her past kindness--the kindness, the affection of sixteen
years--how she had taught and how she had played with her from five
years old--how she had devoted all her powers to attach and amuse her
in health--and how nursed her through the various illnesses of
childhood.  A large debt of gratitude was owing here; but the
intercourse of the last seven years, the equal footing and perfect
unreserve which had soon followed Isabella's marriage, on their being
left to each other, was yet a dearer, tenderer recollection.  She had
been a friend and companion such as few possessed: intelligent,
well-informed, useful, gentle, knowing all the ways of the family,
interested in all its concerns, and peculiarly interested in herself,
in every pleasure, every scheme of hers--one to whom she could speak
every thought as it arose, and who had such an affection for her as
could never find fault.

How was she to bear the change?--It was true that her friend was going
only half a mile from them; but Emma was aware that great must be the
difference between a Mrs. Weston, only half a mile from them, and a
Miss Taylor in the house; and with all her advantages, natural and
domestic, she was now in great danger of suffering from intellectual
solitude.  She dearly loved her father, but he was no companion for
her.  He could not meet her in conversation, rational or playful.

The evil of the actual disparity in their ages (and Mr. Woodhouse had
not married early) was much increased by his constitution and habits;
for having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activity of mind
or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years; and though
everywhere beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable
temper, his talents could not have recommended him at any time.

Her sister, though comparatively but little removed by matrimony, being
settled in London, only sixteen miles off, was much beyond her daily
reach; and many a long October and November evening must be struggled
through at Hartfield, before Christmas brought the next visit from
Isabella and her husband, and their little children, to fill the house,
and give her pleasant society again.

Highbury, the large and populous village, almost amounting to a town,
to which Hartfield, in spite of its separate lawn, and shrubberies, and
name, did really belong, afforded her no equals.  The Woodhouses were
first in consequence there.  All looked up to them.  She had many
acquaintance in the place, for her father was universally civil, but
not one among them who could be accepted in lieu of Miss Taylor for
even half a day.  It was a melancholy change; and Emma could not but
sigh over it, and wish for impossible things, till her father awoke,
and made it necessary to be cheerful.  His spirits required support.
He was a nervous man, easily depressed; fond of every body that he was
used to, and hating to part with them; hating change of every kind.
Matrimony, as the origin of change, was always disagreeable; and he was
by no means yet reconciled to his own daughter's marrying, nor could
ever speak of her but with compassion, though it had been entirely a
match of affection, when he was now obliged to part with Miss Taylor
too; and from his habits of gentle selfishness, and of being never able
to suppose that other people could feel differently from himself, he
was very much disposed to think Miss Taylor had done as sad a thing for
herself as for them, and would have been a great deal happier if she
had spent all the rest of her life at Hartfield.  Emma smiled and
chatted as cheerfully as she could, to keep him from such thoughts; but
when tea came, it was impossible for him not to say exactly as he had
said at dinner,

"Poor Miss Taylor!--I wish she were here again.  What a pity it is that
Mr. Weston ever thought of her!"

"I cannot agree with you, papa; you know I cannot.  Mr. Weston is such
a good-humoured, pleasant, excellent man, that he thoroughly deserves a
good wife;--and you would not have had Miss Taylor live with us for
ever, and bear all my odd humours, when she might have a house of her
own?"

"A house of her own!--But where is the advantage of a house of her own?
This is three times as large.--And you have never any odd humours, my
dear."

"How often we shall be going to see them, and they coming to see
us!--We shall be always meeting! _We_ must begin; we must go and pay
wedding visit very soon."

"My dear, how am I to get so far? Randalls is such a distance.  I could
not walk half so far."

"No, papa, nobody thought of your walking.  We must go in the carriage,
to be sure."

"The carriage! But James will not like to put the horses to for such a
little way;--and where are the poor horses to be while we are paying
our visit?"

"They are to be put into Mr. Weston's stable, papa.  You know we have
settled all that already.  We talked it all over with Mr. Weston last
night.  And as for James, you may be very sure he will always like
going to Randalls, because of his daughter's being housemaid there.  I
only doubt whether he will ever take us anywhere else.  That was your
doing, papa.  You got Hannah that good place.  Nobody thought of Hannah
till you mentioned her--James is so obliged to you!"

"I am very glad I did think of her.  It was very lucky, for I would not
have had poor James think himself slighted upon any account; and I am
sure she will make a very good servant: she is a civil, pretty-spoken
girl; I have a great opinion of her.  Whenever I see her, she always
curtseys and asks me how I do, in a very pretty manner; and when you
have had her here to do needlework, I observe she always turns the lock
of the door the right way and never bangs it.  I am sure she will be an
excellent servant; and it will be a great comfort to poor Miss Taylor
to have somebody about her that she is used to see.  Whenever James
goes over to see his daughter, you know, she will be hearing of us.  He
will be able to tell her how we all are."

Emma spared no exertions to maintain this happier flow of ideas, and
hoped, by the help of backgammon, to get her father tolerably through
the evening, and be attacked by no regrets but her own.  The
backgammon-table was placed; but a visitor immediately afterwards
walked in and made it unnecessary.

Mr. Knightley, a sensible man about seven or eight-and-thirty, was not
only a very old and intimate friend of the family, but particularly
connected with it, as the elder brother of Isabella's husband.  He
lived about a mile from Highbury, was a frequent visitor, and always
welcome, and at this time more welcome than usual, as coming directly
from their mutual connexions in London.  He had returned to a late
dinner, after some days' absence, and now walked up to Hartfield to say
that all were well in Brunswick Square.  It was a happy circumstance,
and animated Mr. Woodhouse for some time.  Mr. Knightley had a cheerful
manner, which always did him good; and his many inquiries after "poor
Isabella" and her children were answered most satisfactorily.  When
this was over, Mr. Woodhouse gratefully observed, "It is very kind of
you, Mr. Knightley, to come out at this late hour to call upon us.  I
am afraid you must have had a shocking walk."

"Not at all, sir.  It is a beautiful moonlight night; and so mild that
I must draw back from your great fire."

"But you must have found it very damp and dirty.  I wish you may not
catch cold."

"Dirty, sir! Look at my shoes.  Not a speck on them."

"Well! that is quite surprising, for we have had a vast deal of rain
here.  It rained dreadfully hard for half an hour while we were at
breakfast.  I wanted them to put off the wedding."

"By the bye--I have not wished you joy.  Being pretty well aware of
what sort of joy you must both be feeling, I have been in no hurry with
my congratulations; but I hope it all went off tolerably well.  How did
you all behave? Who cried most?"

"Ah! poor Miss Taylor! 'Tis a sad business."

"Poor Mr. and Miss Woodhouse, if you please; but I cannot possibly say
'poor Miss Taylor.' I have a great regard for you and Emma; but when it
comes to the question of dependence or independence!--At any rate, it
must be better to have only one to please than two."

"Especially when _one_ of those two is such a fanciful, troublesome
creature!" said Emma playfully.  "That is what you have in your head, I
know--and what you would certainly say if my father were not by."

"I believe it is very true, my dear, indeed," said Mr. Woodhouse, with
a sigh.  "I am afraid I am sometimes very fanciful and troublesome."

"My dearest papa! You do not think I could mean _you_, or suppose Mr.
Knightley to mean _you_.  What a horrible idea! Oh no! I meant only
myself.  Mr. Knightley loves to find fault with me, you know--in a
joke--it is all a joke.  We always say what we like to one another."

Mr. Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who could see faults
in Emma Woodhouse, and the only one who ever told her of them: and
though this was not particularly agreeable to Emma herself, she knew it
would be so much less so to her father, that she would not have him
really suspect such a circumstance as her not being thought perfect by
every body.

"Emma knows I never flatter her," said Mr. Knightley, "but I meant no
reflection on any body.  Miss Taylor has been used to have two persons
to please; she will now have but one.  The chances are that she must be
a gainer."

"Well," said Emma, willing to let it pass--"you want to hear about the
wedding; and I shall be happy to tell you, for we all behaved
charmingly.  Every body was punctual, every body in their best looks:
not a tear, and hardly a long face to be seen.  Oh no; we all felt that
we were going to be only half a mile apart, and were sure of meeting
every day."

"Dear Emma bears every thing so well," said her father.  "But, Mr.
Knightley, she is really very sorry to lose poor Miss Taylor, and I am
sure she _will_ miss her more than she thinks for."

Emma turned away her head, divided between tears and smiles.  "It is
impossible that Emma should not miss such a companion," said Mr.
Knightley.  "We should not like her so well as we do, sir, if we could
suppose it; but she knows how much the marriage is to Miss Taylor's
advantage; she knows how very acceptable it must be, at Miss Taylor's
time of life, to be settled in a home of her own, and how important to
her to be secure of a comfortable provision, and therefore cannot allow
herself to feel so much pain as pleasure.  Every friend of Miss Taylor
must be glad to have her so happily married."

"And you have forgotten one matter of joy to me," said Emma, "and a
very considerable one--that I made the match myself.  I made the match,
you know, four years ago; and to have it take place, and be proved in
the right, when so many people said Mr. Weston would never marry again,
may comfort me for any thing."

Mr. Knightley shook his head at her.  Her father fondly replied, "Ah!
my dear, I wish you would not make matches and foretell things, for
whatever you say always comes to pass.  Pray do not make any more
matches."

"I promise you to make none for myself, papa; but I must, indeed, for
other people.  It is the greatest amusement in the world! And after
such success, you know!--Every body said that Mr. Weston would never
marry again.  Oh dear, no! Mr. Weston, who had been a widower so long,
and who seemed so perfectly comfortable without a wife, so constantly
occupied either in his business in town or among his friends here,
always acceptable wherever he went, always cheerful--Mr. Weston need
not spend a single evening in the year alone if he did not like it.  Oh
no! Mr. Weston certainly would never marry again.  Some people even
talked of a promise to his wife on her deathbed, and others of the son
and the uncle not letting him.  All manner of solemn nonsense was
talked on the subject, but I believed none of it.

"Ever since the day--about four years ago--that Miss Taylor and I met
with him in Broadway Lane, when, because it began to drizzle, he darted
away with so much gallantry, and borrowed two umbrellas for us from
Farmer Mitchell's, I made up my mind on the subject.  I planned the
match from that hour; and when such success has blessed me in this
instance, dear papa, you cannot think that I shall leave off
match-making."

"I do not understand what you mean by 'success,'" said Mr. Knightley.
"Success supposes endeavour.  Your time has been properly and
delicately spent, if you have been endeavouring for the last four years
to bring about this marriage.  A worthy employment for a young lady's
mind! But if, which I rather imagine, your making the match, as you
call it, means only your planning it, your saying to yourself one idle
day, 'I think it would be a very good thing for Miss Taylor if Mr.
Weston were to marry her,' and saying it again to yourself every now
and then afterwards, why do you talk of success? Where is your merit?
What are you proud of? You made a lucky guess; and _that_ is all that
can be said."

"And have you never known the pleasure and triumph of a lucky guess?--
I pity you.--I thought you cleverer--for, depend upon it a lucky guess
is never merely luck.  There is always some talent in it.  And as to my
poor word 'success,' which you quarrel with, I do not know that I am so
entirely without any claim to it.  You have drawn two pretty pictures;
but I think there may be a third--a something between the do-nothing
and the do-all. If I had not promoted Mr. Weston's visits here, and
given many little encouragements, and smoothed many little matters, it
might not have come to any thing after all.  I think you must know
Hartfield enough to comprehend that."

"A straightforward, open-hearted man like Weston, and a rational,
unaffected woman like Miss Taylor, may be safely left to manage their
own concerns.  You are more likely to have done harm to yourself, than
good to them, by interference."

"Emma never thinks of herself, if she can do good to others," rejoined
Mr. Woodhouse, understanding but in part.  "But, my dear, pray do not
make any more matches; they are silly things, and break up one's family
circle grievously."

"Only one more, papa; only for Mr. Elton.  Poor Mr. Elton! You like Mr.
Elton, papa,--I must look about for a wife for him.  There is nobody in
Highbury who deserves him--and he has been here a whole year, and has
fitted up his house so comfortably, that it would be a shame to have
him single any longer--and I thought when he was joining their hands
to-day, he looked so very much as if he would like to have the same
kind office done for him! I think very well of Mr. Elton, and this is
the only way I have of doing him a service."

"Mr. Elton is a very pretty young man, to be sure, and a very good
young man, and I have a great regard for him.  But if you want to shew
him any attention, my dear, ask him to come and dine with us some day.
That will be a much better thing.  I dare say Mr. Knightley will be so
kind as to meet him."

"With a great deal of pleasure, sir, at any time," said Mr. Knightley,
laughing, "and I agree with you entirely, that it will be a much better
thing.  Invite him to dinner, Emma, and help him to the best of the
fish and the chicken, but leave him to chuse his own wife.  Depend upon
it, a man of six or seven-and-twenty can take care of himself."



CHAPTER II


Mr. Weston was a native of Highbury, and born of a respectable family,
which for the last two or three generations had been rising into
gentility and property.  He had received a good education, but, on
succeeding early in life to a small independence, had become indisposed
for any of the more homely pursuits in which his brothers were engaged,
and had satisfied an active, cheerful mind and social temper by
entering into the militia of his county, then embodied.

Captain Weston was a general favourite; and when the chances of his
military life had introduced him to Miss Churchill, of a great
Yorkshire family, and Miss Churchill fell in love with him, nobody was
surprized, except her brother and his wife, who had never seen him, and
who were full of pride and importance, which the connexion would offend.

Miss Churchill, however, being of age, and with the full command of her
fortune--though her fortune bore no proportion to the
family-estate--was not to be dissuaded from the marriage, and it took
place, to the infinite mortification of Mr. and Mrs. Churchill, who
threw her off with due decorum.  It was an unsuitable connexion, and
did not produce much happiness.  Mrs. Weston ought to have found more
in it, for she had a husband whose warm heart and sweet temper made him
think every thing due to her in return for the great goodness of being
in love with him; but though she had one sort of spirit, she had not
the best.  She had resolution enough to pursue her own will in spite of
her brother, but not enough to refrain from unreasonable regrets at
that brother's unreasonable anger, nor from missing the luxuries of her
former home.  They lived beyond their income, but still it was nothing
in comparison of Enscombe: she did not cease to love her husband, but
she wanted at once to be the wife of Captain Weston, and Miss Churchill
of Enscombe.

Captain Weston, who had been considered, especially by the Churchills,
as making such an amazing match, was proved to have much the worst of
the bargain; for when his wife died, after a three years' marriage, he
was rather a poorer man than at first, and with a child to maintain.
From the expense of the child, however, he was soon relieved.  The boy
had, with the additional softening claim of a lingering illness of his
mother's, been the means of a sort of reconciliation; and Mr. and Mrs.
Churchill, having no children of their own, nor any other young
creature of equal kindred to care for, offered to take the whole charge
of the little Frank soon after her decease.  Some scruples and some
reluctance the widower-father may be supposed to have felt; but as they
were overcome by other considerations, the child was given up to the
care and the wealth of the Churchills, and he had only his own comfort
to seek, and his own situation to improve as he could.

A complete change of life became desirable.  He quitted the militia and
engaged in trade, having brothers already established in a good way in
London, which afforded him a favourable opening.  It was a concern
which brought just employment enough.  He had still a small house in
Highbury, where most of his leisure days were spent; and between useful
occupation and the pleasures of society, the next eighteen or twenty
years of his life passed cheerfully away.  He had, by that time,
realised an easy competence--enough to secure the purchase of a little
estate adjoining Highbury, which he had always longed for--enough to
marry a woman as portionless even as Miss Taylor, and to live according
to the wishes of his own friendly and social disposition.

It was now some time since Miss Taylor had begun to influence his
schemes; but as it was not the tyrannic influence of youth on youth, it
had not shaken his determination of never settling till he could
purchase Randalls, and the sale of Randalls was long looked forward to;
but he had gone steadily on, with these objects in view, till they were
accomplished.  He had made his fortune, bought his house, and obtained
his wife; and was beginning a new period of existence, with every
probability of greater happiness than in any yet passed through.  He
had never been an unhappy man; his own temper had secured him from
that, even in his first marriage; but his second must shew him how
delightful a well-judging and truly amiable woman could be, and must
give him the pleasantest proof of its being a great deal better to
choose than to be chosen, to excite gratitude than to feel it.

He had only himself to please in his choice: his fortune was his own;
for as to Frank, it was more than being tacitly brought up as his
uncle's heir, it had become so avowed an adoption as to have him assume
the name of Churchill on coming of age.  It was most unlikely,
therefore, that he should ever want his father's assistance.  His
father had no apprehension of it.  The aunt was a capricious woman, and
governed her husband entirely; but it was not in Mr. Weston's nature to
imagine that any caprice could be strong enough to affect one so dear,
and, as he believed, so deservedly dear.  He saw his son every year in
London, and was proud of him; and his fond report of him as a very fine
young man had made Highbury feel a sort of pride in him too.  He was
looked on as sufficiently belonging to the place to make his merits and
prospects a kind of common concern.

Mr. Frank Churchill was one of the boasts of Highbury, and a lively
curiosity to see him prevailed, though the compliment was so little
returned that he had never been there in his life.  His coming to visit
his father had been often talked of but never achieved.

Now, upon his father's marriage, it was very generally proposed, as a
most proper attention, that the visit should take place.  There was not
a dissentient voice on the subject, either when Mrs. Perry drank tea
with Mrs. and Miss Bates, or when Mrs. and Miss Bates returned the
visit.  Now was the time for Mr. Frank Churchill to come among them;
and the hope strengthened when it was understood that he had written to
his new mother on the occasion.  For a few days, every morning visit in
Highbury included some mention of the handsome letter Mrs. Weston had
received.  "I suppose you have heard of the handsome letter Mr. Frank
Churchill has written to Mrs. Weston? I understand it was a very
handsome letter, indeed.  Mr. Woodhouse told me of it.  Mr. Woodhouse
saw the letter, and he says he never saw such a handsome letter in his
life."

It was, indeed, a highly prized letter.  Mrs. Weston had, of course,
formed a very favourable idea of the young man; and such a pleasing
attention was an irresistible proof of his great good sense, and a most
welcome addition to every source and every expression of congratulation
which her marriage had already secured.  She felt herself a most
fortunate woman; and she had lived long enough to know how fortunate
she might well be thought, where the only regret was for a partial
separation from friends whose friendship for her had never cooled, and
who could ill bear to part with her.

She knew that at times she must be missed; and could not think, without
pain, of Emma's losing a single pleasure, or suffering an hour's ennui,
from the want of her companionableness: but dear Emma was of no feeble
character; she was more equal to her situation than most girls would
have been, and had sense, and energy, and spirits that might be hoped
would bear her well and happily through its little difficulties and
privations.  And then there was such comfort in the very easy distance
of Randalls from Hartfield, so convenient for even solitary female
walking, and in Mr. Weston's disposition and circumstances, which would
make the approaching season no hindrance to their spending half the
evenings in the week together.

Her situation was altogether the subject of hours of gratitude to Mrs.
Weston, and of moments only of regret; and her satisfaction--her more
than satisfaction--her cheerful enjoyment, was so just and so apparent,
that Emma, well as she knew her father, was sometimes taken by surprize
at his being still able to pity 'poor Miss Taylor,' when they left her
at Randalls in the centre of every domestic comfort, or saw her go away
in the evening attended by her pleasant husband to a carriage of her
own.  But never did she go without Mr. Woodhouse's giving a gentle
sigh, and saying, "Ah, poor Miss Taylor! She would be very glad to
stay."

There was no recovering Miss Taylor--nor much likelihood of ceasing to
pity her; but a few weeks brought some alleviation to Mr. Woodhouse.
The compliments of his neighbours were over; he was no longer teased by
being wished joy of so sorrowful an event; and the wedding-cake, which
had been a great distress to him, was all eat up.  His own stomach
could bear nothing rich, and he could never believe other people to be
different from himself.  What was unwholesome to him he regarded as
unfit for any body; and he had, therefore, earnestly tried to dissuade
them from having any wedding-cake at all, and when that proved vain, as
earnestly tried to prevent any body's eating it.  He had been at the
pains of consulting Mr. Perry, the apothecary, on the subject.  Mr.
Perry was an intelligent, gentlemanlike man, whose frequent visits were
one of the comforts of Mr. Woodhouse's life; and upon being applied to,
he could not but acknowledge (though it seemed rather against the bias
of inclination) that wedding-cake might certainly disagree with
many--perhaps with most people, unless taken moderately.  With such an
opinion, in confirmation of his own, Mr. Woodhouse hoped to influence
every visitor of the newly married pair; but still the cake was eaten;
and there was no rest for his benevolent nerves till it was all gone.

There was a strange rumour in Highbury of all the little Perrys being
seen with a slice of Mrs. Weston's wedding-cake in their hands: but Mr.
Woodhouse would never believe it.



CHAPTER III


Mr. Woodhouse was fond of society in his own way.  He liked very much
to have his friends come and see him; and from various united causes,
from his long residence at Hartfield, and his good nature, from his
fortune, his house, and his daughter, he could command the visits of
his own little circle, in a great measure, as he liked.  He had not
much intercourse with any families beyond that circle; his horror of
late hours, and large dinner-parties, made him unfit for any
acquaintance but such as would visit him on his own terms.  Fortunately
for him, Highbury, including Randalls in the same parish, and Donwell
Abbey in the parish adjoining, the seat of Mr. Knightley, comprehended
many such.  Not unfrequently, through Emma's persuasion, he had some of
the chosen and the best to dine with him: but evening parties were what
he preferred; and, unless he fancied himself at any time unequal to
company, there was scarcely an evening in the week in which Emma could
not make up a card-table for him.

Real, long-standing regard brought the Westons and Mr. Knightley; and
by Mr. Elton, a young man living alone without liking it, the privilege
of exchanging any vacant evening of his own blank solitude for the
elegancies and society of Mr. Woodhouse's drawing-room, and the smiles
of his lovely daughter, was in no danger of being thrown away.

After these came a second set; among the most come-at-able of whom were
Mrs. and Miss Bates, and Mrs. Goddard, three ladies almost always at
the service of an invitation from Hartfield, and who were fetched and
carried home so often, that Mr. Woodhouse thought it no hardship for
either James or the horses.  Had it taken place only once a year, it
would have been a grievance.

Mrs. Bates, the widow of a former vicar of Highbury, was a very old
lady, almost past every thing but tea and quadrille.  She lived with
her single daughter in a very small way, and was considered with all
the regard and respect which a harmless old lady, under such untoward
circumstances, can excite.  Her daughter enjoyed a most uncommon degree
of popularity for a woman neither young, handsome, rich, nor married.
Miss Bates stood in the very worst predicament in the world for having
much of the public favour; and she had no intellectual superiority to
make atonement to herself, or frighten those who might hate her into
outward respect.  She had never boasted either beauty or cleverness.
Her youth had passed without distinction, and her middle of life was
devoted to the care of a failing mother, and the endeavour to make a
small income go as far as possible.  And yet she was a happy woman, and
a woman whom no one named without good-will.  It was her own universal
good-will and contented temper which worked such wonders.  She loved
every body, was interested in every body's happiness, quicksighted to
every body's merits; thought herself a most fortunate creature, and
surrounded with blessings in such an excellent mother, and so many good
neighbours and friends, and a home that wanted for nothing.  The
simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful
spirit, were a recommendation to every body, and a mine of felicity to
herself.  She was a great talker upon little matters, which exactly
suited Mr. Woodhouse, full of trivial communications and harmless
gossip.

Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a School--not of a seminary, or an
establishment, or any thing which professed, in long sentences of
refined nonsense, to combine liberal acquirements with elegant
morality, upon new principles and new systems--and where young ladies
for enormous pay might be screwed out of health and into vanity--but a
real, honest, old-fashioned Boarding-school, where a reasonable
quantity of accomplishments were sold at a reasonable price, and where
girls might be sent to be out of the way, and scramble themselves into
a little education, without any danger of coming back prodigies.  Mrs.
Goddard's school was in high repute--and very deservedly; for Highbury
was reckoned a particularly healthy spot: she had an ample house and
garden, gave the children plenty of wholesome food, let them run about
a great deal in the summer, and in winter dressed their chilblains with
her own hands.  It was no wonder that a train of twenty young couple
now walked after her to church.  She was a plain, motherly kind of
woman, who had worked hard in her youth, and now thought herself
entitled to the occasional holiday of a tea-visit; and having formerly
owed much to Mr. Woodhouse's kindness, felt his particular claim on her
to leave her neat parlour, hung round with fancy-work, whenever she
could, and win or lose a few sixpences by his fireside.

These were the ladies whom Emma found herself very frequently able to
collect; and happy was she, for her father's sake, in the power;
though, as far as she was herself concerned, it was no remedy for the
absence of Mrs. Weston.  She was delighted to see her father look
comfortable, and very much pleased with herself for contriving things
so well; but the quiet prosings of three such women made her feel that
every evening so spent was indeed one of the long evenings she had
fearfully anticipated.

As she sat one morning, looking forward to exactly such a close of the
present day, a note was brought from Mrs. Goddard, requesting, in most
respectful terms, to be allowed to bring Miss Smith with her; a most
welcome request: for Miss Smith was a girl of seventeen, whom Emma knew
very well by sight, and had long felt an interest in, on account of her
beauty.  A very gracious invitation was returned, and the evening no
longer dreaded by the fair mistress of the mansion.

Harriet Smith was the natural daughter of somebody.  Somebody had
placed her, several years back, at Mrs. Goddard's school, and somebody
had lately raised her from the condition of scholar to that of
parlour-boarder. This was all that was generally known of her history.
She had no visible friends but what had been acquired at Highbury, and
was now just returned from a long visit in the country to some young
ladies who had been at school there with her.

She was a very pretty girl, and her beauty happened to be of a sort
which Emma particularly admired.  She was short, plump, and fair, with
a fine bloom, blue eyes, light hair, regular features, and a look of
great sweetness, and, before the end of the evening, Emma was as much
pleased with her manners as her person, and quite determined to
continue the acquaintance.

She was not struck by any thing remarkably clever in Miss Smith's
conversation, but she found her altogether very engaging--not
inconveniently shy, not unwilling to talk--and yet so far from pushing,
shewing so proper and becoming a deference, seeming so pleasantly
grateful for being admitted to Hartfield, and so artlessly impressed by
the appearance of every thing in so superior a style to what she had
been used to, that she must have good sense, and deserve encouragement.
Encouragement should be given.  Those soft blue eyes, and all those
natural graces, should not be wasted on the inferior society of
Highbury and its connexions.  The acquaintance she had already formed
were unworthy of her.  The friends from whom she had just parted,
though very good sort of people, must be doing her harm.  They were a
family of the name of Martin, whom Emma well knew by character, as
renting a large farm of Mr. Knightley, and residing in the parish of
Donwell--very creditably, she believed--she knew Mr. Knightley thought
highly of them--but they must be coarse and unpolished, and very unfit
to be the intimates of a girl who wanted only a little more knowledge
and elegance to be quite perfect.  _She_ would notice her; she would
improve her; she would detach her from her bad acquaintance, and
introduce her into good society; she would form her opinions and her
manners.  It would be an interesting, and certainly a very kind
undertaking; highly becoming her own situation in life, her leisure,
and powers.

She was so busy in admiring those soft blue eyes, in talking and
listening, and forming all these schemes in the in-betweens, that the
evening flew away at a very unusual rate; and the supper-table, which
always closed such parties, and for which she had been used to sit and
watch the due time, was all set out and ready, and moved forwards to
the fire, before she was aware.  With an alacrity beyond the common
impulse of a spirit which yet was never indifferent to the credit of
doing every thing well and attentively, with the real good-will of a
mind delighted with its own ideas, did she then do all the honours of
the meal, and help and recommend the minced chicken and scalloped
oysters, with an urgency which she knew would be acceptable to the
early hours and civil scruples of their guests.

Upon such occasions poor Mr. Woodhouses feelings were in sad warfare.
He loved to have the cloth laid, because it had been the fashion of his
youth, but his conviction of suppers being very unwholesome made him
rather sorry to see any thing put on it; and while his hospitality
would have welcomed his visitors to every thing, his care for their
health made him grieve that they would eat.

Such another small basin of thin gruel as his own was all that he
could, with thorough self-approbation, recommend; though he might
constrain himself, while the ladies were comfortably clearing the nicer
things, to say:

"Mrs. Bates, let me propose your venturing on one of these eggs.  An
egg boiled very soft is not unwholesome.  Serle understands boiling an
egg better than any body.  I would not recommend an egg boiled by any
body else; but you need not be afraid, they are very small, you
see--one of our small eggs will not hurt you.  Miss Bates, let Emma
help you to a _little_ bit of tart--a _very_ little bit.  Ours are all
apple-tarts. You need not be afraid of unwholesome preserves here.  I
do not advise the custard.  Mrs. Goddard, what say you to _half_ a
glass of wine? A _small_ half-glass, put into a tumbler of water? I do
not think it could disagree with you."

Emma allowed her father to talk--but supplied her visitors in a much
more satisfactory style, and on the present evening had particular
pleasure in sending them away happy.  The happiness of Miss Smith was
quite equal to her intentions.  Miss Woodhouse was so great a personage
in Highbury, that the prospect of the introduction had given as much
panic as pleasure; but the humble, grateful little girl went off with
highly gratified feelings, delighted with the affability with which
Miss Woodhouse had treated her all the evening, and actually shaken
hands with her at last!



CHAPTER IV


Harriet Smith's intimacy at Hartfield was soon a settled thing.  Quick
and decided in her ways, Emma lost no time in inviting, encouraging,
and telling her to come very often; and as their acquaintance
increased, so did their satisfaction in each other.  As a walking
companion, Emma had very early foreseen how useful she might find her.
In that respect Mrs. Weston's loss had been important.  Her father
never went beyond the shrubbery, where two divisions of the ground
sufficed him for his long walk, or his short, as the year varied; and
since Mrs. Weston's marriage her exercise had been too much confined.
She had ventured once alone to Randalls, but it was not pleasant; and a
Harriet Smith, therefore, one whom she could summon at any time to a
walk, would be a valuable addition to her privileges.  But in every
respect, as she saw more of her, she approved her, and was confirmed in
all her kind designs.

Harriet certainly was not clever, but she had a sweet, docile, grateful
disposition, was totally free from conceit, and only desiring to be
guided by any one she looked up to.  Her early attachment to herself
was very amiable; and her inclination for good company, and power of
appreciating what was elegant and clever, shewed that there was no want
of taste, though strength of understanding must not be expected.
Altogether she was quite convinced of Harriet Smith's being exactly the
young friend she wanted--exactly the something which her home required.
Such a friend as Mrs. Weston was out of the question.  Two such could
never be granted.  Two such she did not want.  It was quite a different
sort of thing, a sentiment distinct and independent.  Mrs. Weston was
the object of a regard which had its basis in gratitude and esteem.
Harriet would be loved as one to whom she could be useful.  For Mrs.
Weston there was nothing to be done; for Harriet every thing.

Her first attempts at usefulness were in an endeavour to find out who
were the parents, but Harriet could not tell.  She was ready to tell
every thing in her power, but on this subject questions were vain.
Emma was obliged to fancy what she liked--but she could never believe
that in the same situation _she_ should not have discovered the truth.
Harriet had no penetration.  She had been satisfied to hear and believe
just what Mrs. Goddard chose to tell her; and looked no farther.

Mrs. Goddard, and the teachers, and the girls and the affairs of the
school in general, formed naturally a great part of the
conversation--and but for her acquaintance with the Martins of
Abbey-Mill Farm, it must have been the whole.  But the Martins occupied
her thoughts a good deal; she had spent two very happy months with
them, and now loved to talk of the pleasures of her visit, and describe
the many comforts and wonders of the place.  Emma encouraged her
talkativeness--amused by such a picture of another set of beings, and
enjoying the youthful simplicity which could speak with so much
exultation of Mrs. Martin's having "_two_ parlours, two very good
parlours, indeed; one of them quite as large as Mrs. Goddard's
drawing-room; and of her having an upper maid who had lived
five-and-twenty years with her; and of their having eight cows, two of
them Alderneys, and one a little Welch cow, a very pretty little Welch
cow indeed; and of Mrs. Martin's saying as she was so fond of it, it
should be called _her_ cow; and of their having a very handsome
summer-house in their garden, where some day next year they were all to
drink tea:--a very handsome summer-house, large enough to hold a dozen
people."

For some time she was amused, without thinking beyond the immediate
cause; but as she came to understand the family better, other feelings
arose.  She had taken up a wrong idea, fancying it was a mother and
daughter, a son and son's wife, who all lived together; but when it
appeared that the Mr. Martin, who bore a part in the narrative, and was
always mentioned with approbation for his great good-nature in doing
something or other, was a single man; that there was no young Mrs.
Martin, no wife in the case; she did suspect danger to her poor little
friend from all this hospitality and kindness, and that, if she were
not taken care of, she might be required to sink herself forever.

With this inspiriting notion, her questions increased in number and
meaning; and she particularly led Harriet to talk more of Mr. Martin,
and there was evidently no dislike to it.  Harriet was very ready to
speak of the share he had had in their moonlight walks and merry
evening games; and dwelt a good deal upon his being so very
good-humoured and obliging.  He had gone three miles round one day in
order to bring her some walnuts, because she had said how fond she was
of them, and in every thing else he was so very obliging.  He had his
shepherd's son into the parlour one night on purpose to sing to her.
She was very fond of singing.  He could sing a little himself.  She
believed he was very clever, and understood every thing.  He had a very
fine flock, and, while she was with them, he had been bid more for his
wool than any body in the country.  She believed every body spoke well
of him.  His mother and sisters were very fond of him.  Mrs. Martin had
told her one day (and there was a blush as she said it,) that it was
impossible for any body to be a better son, and therefore she was sure,
whenever he married, he would make a good husband.  Not that she
_wanted_ him to marry.  She was in no hurry at all.

"Well done, Mrs. Martin!" thought Emma.  "You know what you are about."

"And when she had come away, Mrs. Martin was so very kind as to send
Mrs. Goddard a beautiful goose--the finest goose Mrs. Goddard had ever
seen.  Mrs. Goddard had dressed it on a Sunday, and asked all the three
teachers, Miss Nash, and Miss Prince, and Miss Richardson, to sup with
her."

"Mr. Martin, I suppose, is not a man of information beyond the line of
his own business? He does not read?"

"Oh yes!--that is, no--I do not know--but I believe he has read a good
deal--but not what you would think any thing of.  He reads the
Agricultural Reports, and some other books that lay in one of the
window seats--but he reads all _them_ to himself.  But sometimes of an
evening, before we went to cards, he would read something aloud out of
the Elegant Extracts, very entertaining.  And I know he has read the
Vicar of Wakefield.  He never read the Romance of the Forest, nor The
Children of the Abbey.  He had never heard of such books before I
mentioned them, but he is determined to get them now as soon as ever he
can."

The next question was--

"What sort of looking man is Mr. Martin?"

"Oh! not handsome--not at all handsome.  I thought him very plain at
first, but I do not think him so plain now.  One does not, you know,
after a time.  But did you never see him? He is in Highbury every now
and then, and he is sure to ride through every week in his way to
Kingston.  He has passed you very often."

"That may be, and I may have seen him fifty times, but without having
any idea of his name.  A young farmer, whether on horseback or on foot,
is the very last sort of person to raise my curiosity.  The yeomanry
are precisely the order of people with whom I feel I can have nothing
to do.  A degree or two lower, and a creditable appearance might
interest me; I might hope to be useful to their families in some way or
other.  But a farmer can need none of my help, and is, therefore, in
one sense, as much above my notice as in every other he is below it."

"To be sure.  Oh yes! It is not likely you should ever have observed
him; but he knows you very well indeed--I mean by sight."

"I have no doubt of his being a very respectable young man.  I know,
indeed, that he is so, and, as such, wish him well.  What do you
imagine his age to be?"

"He was four-and-twenty the 8th of last June, and my birthday is the
23rd just a fortnight and a day's difference--which is very odd."

"Only four-and-twenty. That is too young to settle.  His mother is
perfectly right not to be in a hurry.  They seem very comfortable as
they are, and if she were to take any pains to marry him, she would
probably repent it.  Six years hence, if he could meet with a good sort
of young woman in the same rank as his own, with a little money, it
might be very desirable."

"Six years hence! Dear Miss Woodhouse, he would be thirty years old!"

"Well, and that is as early as most men can afford to marry, who are
not born to an independence.  Mr. Martin, I imagine, has his fortune
entirely to make--cannot be at all beforehand with the world.  Whatever
money he might come into when his father died, whatever his share of
the family property, it is, I dare say, all afloat, all employed in his
stock, and so forth; and though, with diligence and good luck, he may
be rich in time, it is next to impossible that he should have realised
any thing yet."

"To be sure, so it is.  But they live very comfortably.  They have no
indoors man, else they do not want for any thing; and Mrs. Martin talks
of taking a boy another year."

"I wish you may not get into a scrape, Harriet, whenever he does
marry;--I mean, as to being acquainted with his wife--for though his
sisters, from a superior education, are not to be altogether objected
to, it does not follow that he might marry any body at all fit for you
to notice.  The misfortune of your birth ought to make you particularly
careful as to your associates.  There can be no doubt of your being a
gentleman's daughter, and you must support your claim to that station
by every thing within your own power, or there will be plenty of people
who would take pleasure in degrading you."

"Yes, to be sure, I suppose there are.  But while I visit at Hartfield,
and you are so kind to me, Miss Woodhouse, I am not afraid of what any
body can do."

"You understand the force of influence pretty well, Harriet; but I
would have you so firmly established in good society, as to be
independent even of Hartfield and Miss Woodhouse.  I want to see you
permanently well connected, and to that end it will be advisable to
have as few odd acquaintance as may be; and, therefore, I say that if
you should still be in this country when Mr. Martin marries, I wish you
may not be drawn in by your intimacy with the sisters, to be acquainted
with the wife, who will probably be some mere farmer's daughter,
without education."

"To be sure.  Yes.  Not that I think Mr. Martin would ever marry any
body but what had had some education--and been very well brought up.
However, I do not mean to set up my opinion against your's--and I am
sure I shall not wish for the acquaintance of his wife.  I shall always
have a great regard for the Miss Martins, especially Elizabeth, and
should be very sorry to give them up, for they are quite as well
educated as me.  But if he marries a very ignorant, vulgar woman,
certainly I had better not visit her, if I can help it."

Emma watched her through the fluctuations of this speech, and saw no
alarming symptoms of love.  The young man had been the first admirer,
but she trusted there was no other hold, and that there would be no
serious difficulty, on Harriet's side, to oppose any friendly
arrangement of her own.

They met Mr. Martin the very next day, as they were walking on the
Donwell road.  He was on foot, and after looking very respectfully at
her, looked with most unfeigned satisfaction at her companion.  Emma
was not sorry to have such an opportunity of survey; and walking a few
yards forward, while they talked together, soon made her quick eye
sufficiently acquainted with Mr. Robert Martin.  His appearance was
very neat, and he looked like a sensible young man, but his person had
no other advantage; and when he came to be contrasted with gentlemen,
she thought he must lose all the ground he had gained in Harriet's
inclination.  Harriet was not insensible of manner; she had voluntarily
noticed her father's gentleness with admiration as well as wonder.  Mr.
Martin looked as if he did not know what manner was.

They remained but a few minutes together, as Miss Woodhouse must not be
kept waiting; and Harriet then came running to her with a smiling face,
and in a flutter of spirits, which Miss Woodhouse hoped very soon to
compose.

"Only think of our happening to meet him!--How very odd! It was quite a
chance, he said, that he had not gone round by Randalls.  He did not
think we ever walked this road.  He thought we walked towards Randalls
most days.  He has not been able to get the Romance of the Forest yet.
He was so busy the last time he was at Kingston that he quite forgot
it, but he goes again to-morrow.  So very odd we should happen to meet!
Well, Miss Woodhouse, is he like what you expected? What do you think
of him? Do you think him so very plain?"

"He is very plain, undoubtedly--remarkably plain:--but that is nothing
compared with his entire want of gentility.  I had no right to expect
much, and I did not expect much; but I had no idea that he could be so
very clownish, so totally without air.  I had imagined him, I confess,
a degree or two nearer gentility."

"To be sure," said Harriet, in a mortified voice, "he is not so genteel
as real gentlemen."

"I think, Harriet, since your acquaintance with us, you have been
repeatedly in the company of some such very real gentlemen, that you
must yourself be struck with the difference in Mr. Martin.  At
Hartfield, you have had very good specimens of well educated, well bred
men.  I should be surprized if, after seeing them, you could be in
company with Mr. Martin again without perceiving him to be a very
inferior creature--and rather wondering at yourself for having ever
thought him at all agreeable before.  Do not you begin to feel that
now? Were not you struck? I am sure you must have been struck by his
awkward look and abrupt manner, and the uncouthness of a voice which I
heard to be wholly unmodulated as I stood here."

"Certainly, he is not like Mr. Knightley.  He has not such a fine air
and way of walking as Mr. Knightley.  I see the difference plain
enough.  But Mr. Knightley is so very fine a man!"

"Mr. Knightley's air is so remarkably good that it is not fair to
compare Mr. Martin with _him_.  You might not see one in a hundred with
_gentleman_ so plainly written as in Mr. Knightley.  But he is not the
only gentleman you have been lately used to.  What say you to Mr.
Weston and Mr. Elton? Compare Mr. Martin with either of _them_.
Compare their manner of carrying themselves; of walking; of speaking;
of being silent.  You must see the difference."

"Oh yes!--there is a great difference.  But Mr. Weston is almost an old
man.  Mr. Weston must be between forty and fifty."

"Which makes his good manners the more valuable.  The older a person
grows, Harriet, the more important it is that their manners should not
be bad; the more glaring and disgusting any loudness, or coarseness, or
awkwardness becomes.  What is passable in youth is detestable in later
age.  Mr. Martin is now awkward and abrupt; what will he be at Mr.
Weston's time of life?"

"There is no saying, indeed," replied Harriet rather solemnly.

"But there may be pretty good guessing.  He will be a completely gross,
vulgar farmer, totally inattentive to appearances, and thinking of
nothing but profit and loss."

"Will he, indeed? That will be very bad."

"How much his business engrosses him already is very plain from the
circumstance of his forgetting to inquire for the book you recommended.
He was a great deal too full of the market to think of any thing
else--which is just as it should be, for a thriving man.  What has he
to do with books? And I have no doubt that he _will_ thrive, and be a
very rich man in time--and his being illiterate and coarse need not
disturb _us_."

"I wonder he did not remember the book"--was all Harriet's answer, and
spoken with a degree of grave displeasure which Emma thought might be
safely left to itself.  She, therefore, said no more for some time.
Her next beginning was,

"In one respect, perhaps, Mr. Elton's manners are superior to Mr.
Knightley's or Mr. Weston's. They have more gentleness.  They might be
more safely held up as a pattern.  There is an openness, a quickness,
almost a bluntness in Mr. Weston, which every body likes in _him_,
because there is so much good-humour with it--but that would not do to
be copied.  Neither would Mr. Knightley's downright, decided,
commanding sort of manner, though it suits _him_ very well; his figure,
and look, and situation in life seem to allow it; but if any young man
were to set about copying him, he would not be sufferable.  On the
contrary, I think a young man might be very safely recommended to take
Mr. Elton as a model.  Mr. Elton is good-humoured, cheerful, obliging,
and gentle.  He seems to me to be grown particularly gentle of late.  I
do not know whether he has any design of ingratiating himself with
either of us, Harriet, by additional softness, but it strikes me that
his manners are softer than they used to be.  If he means any thing, it
must be to please you.  Did not I tell you what he said of you the
other day?"

She then repeated some warm personal praise which she had drawn from
Mr. Elton, and now did full justice to; and Harriet blushed and smiled,
and said she had always thought Mr. Elton very agreeable.

Mr. Elton was the very person fixed on by Emma for driving the young
farmer out of Harriet's head.  She thought it would be an excellent
match; and only too palpably desirable, natural, and probable, for her
to have much merit in planning it.  She feared it was what every body
else must think of and predict.  It was not likely, however, that any
body should have equalled her in the date of the plan, as it had
entered her brain during the very first evening of Harriet's coming to
Hartfield.  The longer she considered it, the greater was her sense of
its expediency.  Mr. Elton's situation was most suitable, quite the
gentleman himself, and without low connexions; at the same time, not of
any family that could fairly object to the doubtful birth of Harriet.
He had a comfortable home for her, and Emma imagined a very sufficient
income; for though the vicarage of Highbury was not large, he was known
to have some independent property; and she thought very highly of him
as a good-humoured, well-meaning, respectable young man, without any
deficiency of useful understanding or knowledge of the world.

She had already satisfied herself that he thought Harriet a beautiful
girl, which she trusted, with such frequent meetings at Hartfield, was
foundation enough on his side; and on Harriet's there could be little
doubt that the idea of being preferred by him would have all the usual
weight and efficacy.  And he was really a very pleasing young man, a
young man whom any woman not fastidious might like.  He was reckoned
very handsome; his person much admired in general, though not by her,
there being a want of elegance of feature which she could not dispense
with:--but the girl who could be gratified by a Robert Martin's riding
about the country to get walnuts for her might very well be conquered
by Mr. Elton's admiration.



CHAPTER V


"I do not know what your opinion may be, Mrs. Weston," said Mr.
Knightley, "of this great intimacy between Emma and Harriet Smith, but
I think it a bad thing."

"A bad thing! Do you really think it a bad thing?--why so?"

"I think they will neither of them do the other any good."

"You surprize me! Emma must do Harriet good: and by supplying her with
a new object of interest, Harriet may be said to do Emma good.  I have
been seeing their intimacy with the greatest pleasure.  How very
differently we feel!--Not think they will do each other any good! This
will certainly be the beginning of one of our quarrels about Emma, Mr.
Knightley."

"Perhaps you think I am come on purpose to quarrel with you, knowing
Weston to be out, and that you must still fight your own battle."

"Mr. Weston would undoubtedly support me, if he were here, for he
thinks exactly as I do on the subject.  We were speaking of it only
yesterday, and agreeing how fortunate it was for Emma, that there
should be such a girl in Highbury for her to associate with.  Mr.
Knightley, I shall not allow you to be a fair judge in this case.  You
are so much used to live alone, that you do not know the value of a
companion; and, perhaps no man can be a good judge of the comfort a
woman feels in the society of one of her own sex, after being used to
it all her life.  I can imagine your objection to Harriet Smith.  She
is not the superior young woman which Emma's friend ought to be.  But
on the other hand, as Emma wants to see her better informed, it will be
an inducement to her to read more herself.  They will read together.
She means it, I know."

"Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years
old.  I have seen a great many lists of her drawing-up at various times
of books that she meant to read regularly through--and very good lists
they were--very well chosen, and very neatly arranged--sometimes
alphabetically, and sometimes by some other rule.  The list she drew up
when only fourteen--I remember thinking it did her judgment so much
credit, that I preserved it some time; and I dare say she may have made
out a very good list now.  But I have done with expecting any course of
steady reading from Emma.  She will never submit to any thing requiring
industry and patience, and a subjection of the fancy to the
understanding.  Where Miss Taylor failed to stimulate, I may safely
affirm that Harriet Smith will do nothing.--You never could persuade
her to read half so much as you wished.--You know you could not."

"I dare say," replied Mrs. Weston, smiling, "that I thought so
_then_;--but since we have parted, I can never remember Emma's omitting
to do any thing I wished."

"There is hardly any desiring to refresh such a memory as
_that_,"--said Mr. Knightley, feelingly; and for a moment or two he had
done.  "But I," he soon added, "who have had no such charm thrown over
my senses, must still see, hear, and remember.  Emma is spoiled by
being the cleverest of her family.  At ten years old, she had the
misfortune of being able to answer questions which puzzled her sister
at seventeen.  She was always quick and assured: Isabella slow and
diffident.  And ever since she was twelve, Emma has been mistress of
the house and of you all.  In her mother she lost the only person able
to cope with her.  She inherits her mother's talents, and must have
been under subjection to her."

"I should have been sorry, Mr. Knightley, to be dependent on _your_
recommendation, had I quitted Mr. Woodhouse's family and wanted another
situation; I do not think you would have spoken a good word for me to
any body.  I am sure you always thought me unfit for the office I held."

"Yes," said he, smiling.  "You are better placed _here_; very fit for a
wife, but not at all for a governess.  But you were preparing yourself
to be an excellent wife all the time you were at Hartfield.  You might
not give Emma such a complete education as your powers would seem to
promise; but you were receiving a very good education from _her_, on
the very material matrimonial point of submitting your own will, and
doing as you were bid; and if Weston had asked me to recommend him a
wife, I should certainly have named Miss Taylor."

"Thank you.  There will be very little merit in making a good wife to
such a man as Mr. Weston."

"Why, to own the truth, I am afraid you are rather thrown away, and
that with every disposition to bear, there will be nothing to be borne.
We will not despair, however.  Weston may grow cross from the
wantonness of comfort, or his son may plague him."

"I hope not _that_.--It is not likely.  No, Mr. Knightley, do not
foretell vexation from that quarter."

"Not I, indeed.  I only name possibilities.  I do not pretend to Emma's
genius for foretelling and guessing.  I hope, with all my heart, the
young man may be a Weston in merit, and a Churchill in fortune.--But
Harriet Smith--I have not half done about Harriet Smith.  I think her
the very worst sort of companion that Emma could possibly have.  She
knows nothing herself, and looks upon Emma as knowing every thing.  She
is a flatterer in all her ways; and so much the worse, because
undesigned.  Her ignorance is hourly flattery.  How can Emma imagine
she has any thing to learn herself, while Harriet is presenting such a
delightful inferiority? And as for Harriet, I will venture to say that
_she_ cannot gain by the acquaintance.  Hartfield will only put her out
of conceit with all the other places she belongs to.  She will grow
just refined enough to be uncomfortable with those among whom birth and
circumstances have placed her home.  I am much mistaken if Emma's
doctrines give any strength of mind, or tend at all to make a girl
adapt herself rationally to the varieties of her situation in
life.--They only give a little polish."

"I either depend more upon Emma's good sense than you do, or am more
anxious for her present comfort; for I cannot lament the acquaintance.
How well she looked last night!"

"Oh! you would rather talk of her person than her mind, would you?
Very well; I shall not attempt to deny Emma's being pretty."

"Pretty! say beautiful rather.  Can you imagine any thing nearer
perfect beauty than Emma altogether--face and figure?"

"I do not know what I could imagine, but I confess that I have seldom
seen a face or figure more pleasing to me than hers.  But I am a
partial old friend."

"Such an eye!--the true hazle eye--and so brilliant! regular features,
open countenance, with a complexion! oh! what a bloom of full health,
and such a pretty height and size; such a firm and upright figure!
There is health, not merely in her bloom, but in her air, her head, her
glance.  One hears sometimes of a child being 'the picture of health;'
now, Emma always gives me the idea of being the complete picture of
grown-up health.  She is loveliness itself.  Mr. Knightley, is not she?"

"I have not a fault to find with her person," he replied.  "I think her
all you describe.  I love to look at her; and I will add this praise,
that I do not think her personally vain.  Considering how very handsome
she is, she appears to be little occupied with it; her vanity lies
another way.  Mrs. Weston, I am not to be talked out of my dislike of
Harriet Smith, or my dread of its doing them both harm."

"And I, Mr. Knightley, am equally stout in my confidence of its not
doing them any harm.  With all dear Emma's little faults, she is an
excellent creature.  Where shall we see a better daughter, or a kinder
sister, or a truer friend? No, no; she has qualities which may be
trusted; she will never lead any one really wrong; she will make no
lasting blunder; where Emma errs once, she is in the right a hundred
times."

"Very well; I will not plague you any more.  Emma shall be an angel,
and I will keep my spleen to myself till Christmas brings John and
Isabella.  John loves Emma with a reasonable and therefore not a blind
affection, and Isabella always thinks as he does; except when he is not
quite frightened enough about the children.  I am sure of having their
opinions with me."

"I know that you all love her really too well to be unjust or unkind;
but excuse me, Mr. Knightley, if I take the liberty (I consider myself,
you know, as having somewhat of the privilege of speech that Emma's
mother might have had) the liberty of hinting that I do not think any
possible good can arise from Harriet Smith's intimacy being made a
matter of much discussion among you.  Pray excuse me; but supposing any
little inconvenience may be apprehended from the intimacy, it cannot be
expected that Emma, accountable to nobody but her father, who perfectly
approves the acquaintance, should put an end to it, so long as it is a
source of pleasure to herself.  It has been so many years my province
to give advice, that you cannot be surprized, Mr. Knightley, at this
little remains of office."

"Not at all," cried he; "I am much obliged to you for it.  It is very
good advice, and it shall have a better fate than your advice has often
found; for it shall be attended to."

"Mrs. John Knightley is easily alarmed, and might be made unhappy about
her sister."

"Be satisfied," said he, "I will not raise any outcry.  I will keep my
ill-humour to myself.  I have a very sincere interest in Emma.
Isabella does not seem more my sister; has never excited a greater
interest; perhaps hardly so great.  There is an anxiety, a curiosity in
what one feels for Emma.  I wonder what will become of her!"

"So do I," said Mrs. Weston gently, "very much."

"She always declares she will never marry, which, of course, means just
nothing at all.  But I have no idea that she has yet ever seen a man
she cared for.  It would not be a bad thing for her to be very much in
love with a proper object.  I should like to see Emma in love, and in
some doubt of a return; it would do her good.  But there is nobody
hereabouts to attach her; and she goes so seldom from home."

"There does, indeed, seem as little to tempt her to break her
resolution at present," said Mrs. Weston, "as can well be; and while
she is so happy at Hartfield, I cannot wish her to be forming any
attachment which would be creating such difficulties on poor Mr.
Woodhouse's account.  I do not recommend matrimony at present to Emma,
though I mean no slight to the state, I assure you."

Part of her meaning was to conceal some favourite thoughts of her own
and Mr. Weston's on the subject, as much as possible.  There were
wishes at Randalls respecting Emma's destiny, but it was not desirable
to have them suspected; and the quiet transition which Mr. Knightley
soon afterwards made to "What does Weston think of the weather; shall
we have rain?" convinced her that he had nothing more to say or surmise
about Hartfield.



CHAPTER VI


Emma could not feel a doubt of having given Harriet's fancy a proper
direction and raised the gratitude of her young vanity to a very good
purpose, for she found her decidedly more sensible than before of Mr.
Elton's being a remarkably handsome man, with most agreeable manners;
and as she had no hesitation in following up the assurance of his
admiration by agreeable hints, she was soon pretty confident of
creating as much liking on Harriet's side, as there could be any
occasion for.  She was quite convinced of Mr. Elton's being in the
fairest way of falling in love, if not in love already.  She had no
scruple with regard to him.  He talked of Harriet, and praised her so
warmly, that she could not suppose any thing wanting which a little
time would not add.  His perception of the striking improvement of
Harriet's manner, since her introduction at Hartfield, was not one of
the least agreeable proofs of his growing attachment.

"You have given Miss Smith all that she required," said he; "you have
made her graceful and easy.  She was a beautiful creature when she came
to you, but, in my opinion, the attractions you have added are
infinitely superior to what she received from nature."

"I am glad you think I have been useful to her; but Harriet only wanted
drawing out, and receiving a few, very few hints.  She had all the
natural grace of sweetness of temper and artlessness in herself.  I
have done very little."

"If it were admissible to contradict a lady," said the gallant Mr.
Elton--

"I have perhaps given her a little more decision of character, have
taught her to think on points which had not fallen in her way before."

"Exactly so; that is what principally strikes me.  So much superadded
decision of character! Skilful has been the hand!"

"Great has been the pleasure, I am sure.  I never met with a
disposition more truly amiable."

"I have no doubt of it." And it was spoken with a sort of sighing
animation, which had a vast deal of the lover.  She was not less
pleased another day with the manner in which he seconded a sudden wish
of hers, to have Harriet's picture.

"Did you ever have your likeness taken, Harriet?" said she: "did you
ever sit for your picture?"

Harriet was on the point of leaving the room, and only stopt to say,
with a very interesting naivete,

"Oh! dear, no, never."

No sooner was she out of sight, than Emma exclaimed,

"What an exquisite possession a good picture of her would be! I would
give any money for it.  I almost long to attempt her likeness myself.
You do not know it I dare say, but two or three years ago I had a great
passion for taking likenesses, and attempted several of my friends, and
was thought to have a tolerable eye in general.  But from one cause or
another, I gave it up in disgust.  But really, I could almost venture,
if Harriet would sit to me.  It would be such a delight to have her
picture!"

"Let me entreat you," cried Mr. Elton; "it would indeed be a delight!
Let me entreat you, Miss Woodhouse, to exercise so charming a talent in
favour of your friend.  I know what your drawings are.  How could you
suppose me ignorant? Is not this room rich in specimens of your
landscapes and flowers; and has not Mrs. Weston some inimitable
figure-pieces in her drawing-room, at Randalls?"

Yes, good man!--thought Emma--but what has all that to do with taking
likenesses? You know nothing of drawing.  Don't pretend to be in
raptures about mine.  Keep your raptures for Harriet's face.  "Well, if
you give me such kind encouragement, Mr. Elton, I believe I shall try
what I can do.  Harriet's features are very delicate, which makes a
likeness difficult; and yet there is a peculiarity in the shape of the
eye and the lines about the mouth which one ought to catch."

"Exactly so--The shape of the eye and the lines about the mouth--I have
not a doubt of your success.  Pray, pray attempt it.  As you will do
it, it will indeed, to use your own words, be an exquisite possession."

"But I am afraid, Mr. Elton, Harriet will not like to sit.  She thinks
so little of her own beauty.  Did not you observe her manner of
answering me? How completely it meant, 'why should my picture be
drawn?'"

"Oh! yes, I observed it, I assure you.  It was not lost on me.  But
still I cannot imagine she would not be persuaded."

Harriet was soon back again, and the proposal almost immediately made;
and she had no scruples which could stand many minutes against the
earnest pressing of both the others.  Emma wished to go to work
directly, and therefore produced the portfolio containing her various
attempts at portraits, for not one of them had ever been finished, that
they might decide together on the best size for Harriet.  Her many
beginnings were displayed.  Miniatures, half-lengths, whole-lengths,
pencil, crayon, and water-colours had been all tried in turn.  She had
always wanted to do every thing, and had made more progress both in
drawing and music than many might have done with so little labour as
she would ever submit to.  She played and sang;--and drew in almost
every style; but steadiness had always been wanting; and in nothing had
she approached the degree of excellence which she would have been glad
to command, and ought not to have failed of.  She was not much deceived
as to her own skill either as an artist or a musician, but she was not
unwilling to have others deceived, or sorry to know her reputation for
accomplishment often higher than it deserved.

There was merit in every drawing--in the least finished, perhaps the
most; her style was spirited; but had there been much less, or had
there been ten times more, the delight and admiration of her two
companions would have been the same.  They were both in ecstasies.  A
likeness pleases every body; and Miss Woodhouse's performances must be
capital.

"No great variety of faces for you," said Emma.  "I had only my own
family to study from.  There is my father--another of my father--but
the idea of sitting for his picture made him so nervous, that I could
only take him by stealth; neither of them very like therefore.  Mrs.
Weston again, and again, and again, you see.  Dear Mrs. Weston! always
my kindest friend on every occasion.  She would sit whenever I asked
her.  There is my sister; and really quite her own little elegant
figure!--and the face not unlike.  I should have made a good likeness
of her, if she would have sat longer, but she was in such a hurry to
have me draw her four children that she would not be quiet.  Then, here
come all my attempts at three of those four children;--there they are,
Henry and John and Bella, from one end of the sheet to the other, and
any one of them might do for any one of the rest.  She was so eager to
have them drawn that I could not refuse; but there is no making
children of three or four years old stand still you know; nor can it be
very easy to take any likeness of them, beyond the air and complexion,
unless they are coarser featured than any of mama's children ever were.
Here is my sketch of the fourth, who was a baby.  I took him as he was
sleeping on the sofa, and it is as strong a likeness of his cockade as
you would wish to see.  He had nestled down his head most conveniently.
That's very like.  I am rather proud of little George.  The corner of
the sofa is very good.  Then here is my last,"--unclosing a pretty
sketch of a gentleman in small size, whole-length--"my last and my
best--my brother, Mr. John Knightley.--This did not want much of being
finished, when I put it away in a pet, and vowed I would never take
another likeness.  I could not help being provoked; for after all my
pains, and when I had really made a very good likeness of it--(Mrs.
Weston and I were quite agreed in thinking it _very_ like)--only too
handsome--too flattering--but that was a fault on the right side--after
all this, came poor dear Isabella's cold approbation of--"Yes, it was a
little like--but to be sure it did not do him justice." We had had a
great deal of trouble in persuading him to sit at all.  It was made a
great favour of; and altogether it was more than I could bear; and so I
never would finish it, to have it apologised over as an unfavourable
likeness, to every morning visitor in Brunswick Square;--and, as I
said, I did then forswear ever drawing any body again.  But for
Harriet's sake, or rather for my own, and as there are no husbands and
wives in the case _at_ _present_, I will break my resolution now."

Mr. Elton seemed very properly struck and delighted by the idea, and
was repeating, "No husbands and wives in the case at present indeed, as
you observe.  Exactly so.  No husbands and wives," with so interesting
a consciousness, that Emma began to consider whether she had not better
leave them together at once.  But as she wanted to be drawing, the
declaration must wait a little longer.

She had soon fixed on the size and sort of portrait.  It was to be a
whole-length in water-colours, like Mr. John Knightley's, and was
destined, if she could please herself, to hold a very honourable
station over the mantelpiece.

The sitting began; and Harriet, smiling and blushing, and afraid of not
keeping her attitude and countenance, presented a very sweet mixture of
youthful expression to the steady eyes of the artist.  But there was no
doing any thing, with Mr. Elton fidgeting behind her and watching every
touch.  She gave him credit for stationing himself where he might gaze
and gaze again without offence; but was really obliged to put an end to
it, and request him to place himself elsewhere.  It then occurred to
her to employ him in reading.

"If he would be so good as to read to them, it would be a kindness
indeed! It would amuse away the difficulties of her part, and lessen
the irksomeness of Miss Smith's."

Mr. Elton was only too happy.  Harriet listened, and Emma drew in
peace.  She must allow him to be still frequently coming to look; any
thing less would certainly have been too little in a lover; and he was
ready at the smallest intermission of the pencil, to jump up and see
the progress, and be charmed.--There was no being displeased with such
an encourager, for his admiration made him discern a likeness almost
before it was possible.  She could not respect his eye, but his love
and his complaisance were unexceptionable.

The sitting was altogether very satisfactory; she was quite enough
pleased with the first day's sketch to wish to go on.  There was no
want of likeness, she had been fortunate in the attitude, and as she
meant to throw in a little improvement to the figure, to give a little
more height, and considerably more elegance, she had great confidence
of its being in every way a pretty drawing at last, and of its filling
its destined place with credit to them both--a standing memorial of the
beauty of one, the skill of the other, and the friendship of both; with
as many other agreeable associations as Mr. Elton's very promising
attachment was likely to add.

Harriet was to sit again the next day; and Mr. Elton, just as he ought,
entreated for the permission of attending and reading to them again.

"By all means.  We shall be most happy to consider you as one of the
party."

The same civilities and courtesies, the same success and satisfaction,
took place on the morrow, and accompanied the whole progress of the
picture, which was rapid and happy.  Every body who saw it was pleased,
but Mr. Elton was in continual raptures, and defended it through every
criticism.

"Miss Woodhouse has given her friend the only beauty she
wanted,"--observed Mrs. Weston to him--not in the least suspecting that
she was addressing a lover.--"The expression of the eye is most
correct, but Miss Smith has not those eyebrows and eyelashes.  It is
the fault of her face that she has them not."

"Do you think so?" replied he.  "I cannot agree with you.  It appears
to me a most perfect resemblance in every feature.  I never saw such a
likeness in my life.  We must allow for the effect of shade, you know."

"You have made her too tall, Emma," said Mr. Knightley.

Emma knew that she had, but would not own it; and Mr. Elton warmly
added,

"Oh no! certainly not too tall; not in the least too tall.  Consider,
she is sitting down--which naturally presents a different--which in
short gives exactly the idea--and the proportions must be preserved,
you know.  Proportions, fore-shortening.--Oh no! it gives one exactly
the idea of such a height as Miss Smith's. Exactly so indeed!"

"It is very pretty," said Mr. Woodhouse.  "So prettily done! Just as
your drawings always are, my dear.  I do not know any body who draws so
well as you do.  The only thing I do not thoroughly like is, that she
seems to be sitting out of doors, with only a little shawl over her
shoulders--and it makes one think she must catch cold."

"But, my dear papa, it is supposed to be summer; a warm day in summer.
Look at the tree."

"But it is never safe to sit out of doors, my dear."

"You, sir, may say any thing," cried Mr. Elton, "but I must confess
that I regard it as a most happy thought, the placing of Miss Smith out
of doors; and the tree is touched with such inimitable spirit! Any
other situation would have been much less in character.  The naivete of
Miss Smith's manners--and altogether--Oh, it is most admirable! I
cannot keep my eyes from it.  I never saw such a likeness."

The next thing wanted was to get the picture framed; and here were a
few difficulties.  It must be done directly; it must be done in London;
the order must go through the hands of some intelligent person whose
taste could be depended on; and Isabella, the usual doer of all
commissions, must not be applied to, because it was December, and Mr.
Woodhouse could not bear the idea of her stirring out of her house in
the fogs of December.  But no sooner was the distress known to Mr.
Elton, than it was removed.  His gallantry was always on the alert.
"Might he be trusted with the commission, what infinite pleasure should
he have in executing it! he could ride to London at any time.  It was
impossible to say how much he should be gratified by being employed on
such an errand."

"He was too good!--she could not endure the thought!--she would not
give him such a troublesome office for the world,"--brought on the
desired repetition of entreaties and assurances,--and a very few
minutes settled the business.

Mr. Elton was to take the drawing to London, chuse the frame, and give
the directions; and Emma thought she could so pack it as to ensure its
safety without much incommoding him, while he seemed mostly fearful of
not being incommoded enough.

"What a precious deposit!" said he with a tender sigh, as he received
it.

"This man is almost too gallant to be in love," thought Emma.  "I
should say so, but that I suppose there may be a hundred different ways
of being in love.  He is an excellent young man, and will suit Harriet
exactly; it will be an 'Exactly so,' as he says himself; but he does
sigh and languish, and study for compliments rather more than I could
endure as a principal.  I come in for a pretty good share as a second.
But it is his gratitude on Harriet's account."



CHAPTER VII


The very day of Mr. Elton's going to London produced a fresh occasion
for Emma's services towards her friend.  Harriet had been at Hartfield,
as usual, soon after breakfast; and, after a time, had gone home to
return again to dinner: she returned, and sooner than had been talked
of, and with an agitated, hurried look, announcing something
extraordinary to have happened which she was longing to tell.  Half a
minute brought it all out.  She had heard, as soon as she got back to
Mrs. Goddard's, that Mr. Martin had been there an hour before, and
finding she was not at home, nor particularly expected, had left a
little parcel for her from one of his sisters, and gone away; and on
opening this parcel, she had actually found, besides the two songs
which she had lent Elizabeth to copy, a letter to herself; and this
letter was from him, from Mr. Martin, and contained a direct proposal
of marriage.  "Who could have thought it? She was so surprized she did
not know what to do.  Yes, quite a proposal of marriage; and a very
good letter, at least she thought so.  And he wrote as if he really
loved her very much--but she did not know--and so, she was come as fast
as she could to ask Miss Woodhouse what she should do.--" Emma was
half-ashamed of her friend for seeming so pleased and so doubtful.

"Upon my word," she cried, "the young man is determined not to lose any
thing for want of asking.  He will connect himself well if he can."

"Will you read the letter?" cried Harriet.  "Pray do.  I'd rather you
would."

Emma was not sorry to be pressed.  She read, and was surprized.  The
style of the letter was much above her expectation.  There were not
merely no grammatical errors, but as a composition it would not have
disgraced a gentleman; the language, though plain, was strong and
unaffected, and the sentiments it conveyed very much to the credit of
the writer.  It was short, but expressed good sense, warm attachment,
liberality, propriety, even delicacy of feeling.  She paused over it,
while Harriet stood anxiously watching for her opinion, with a "Well,
well," and was at last forced to add, "Is it a good letter? or is it
too short?"

"Yes, indeed, a very good letter," replied Emma rather slowly--"so good
a letter, Harriet, that every thing considered, I think one of his
sisters must have helped him.  I can hardly imagine the young man whom
I saw talking with you the other day could express himself so well, if
left quite to his own powers, and yet it is not the style of a woman;
no, certainly, it is too strong and concise; not diffuse enough for a
woman.  No doubt he is a sensible man, and I suppose may have a natural
talent for--thinks strongly and clearly--and when he takes a pen in
hand, his thoughts naturally find proper words.  It is so with some
men.  Yes, I understand the sort of mind.  Vigorous, decided, with
sentiments to a certain point, not coarse.  A better written letter,
Harriet (returning it,) than I had expected."

"Well," said the still waiting Harriet;--"well--and--and what shall I
do?"

"What shall you do! In what respect? Do you mean with regard to this
letter?"

"Yes."

"But what are you in doubt of? You must answer it of course--and
speedily."

"Yes. But what shall I say? Dear Miss Woodhouse, do advise me."

"Oh no, no! the letter had much better be all your own.  You will
express yourself very properly, I am sure.  There is no danger of your
not being intelligible, which is the first thing.  Your meaning must be
unequivocal; no doubts or demurs: and such expressions of gratitude and
concern for the pain you are inflicting as propriety requires, will
present themselves unbidden to _your_ mind, I am persuaded.  You need
not be prompted to write with the appearance of sorrow for his
disappointment."

"You think I ought to refuse him then," said Harriet, looking down.

"Ought to refuse him! My dear Harriet, what do you mean? Are you in any
doubt as to that? I thought--but I beg your pardon, perhaps I have been
under a mistake.  I certainly have been misunderstanding you, if you
feel in doubt as to the _purport_ of your answer.  I had imagined you
were consulting me only as to the wording of it."

Harriet was silent.  With a little reserve of manner, Emma continued:

"You mean to return a favourable answer, I collect."

"No, I do not; that is, I do not mean--What shall I do? What would you
advise me to do? Pray, dear Miss Woodhouse, tell me what I ought to do."

"I shall not give you any advice, Harriet.  I will have nothing to do
with it.  This is a point which you must settle with your feelings."

"I had no notion that he liked me so very much," said Harriet,
contemplating the letter.  For a little while Emma persevered in her
silence; but beginning to apprehend the bewitching flattery of that
letter might be too powerful, she thought it best to say,

"I lay it down as a general rule, Harriet, that if a woman _doubts_ as
to whether she should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to
refuse him.  If she can hesitate as to 'Yes,' she ought to say 'No'
directly.  It is not a state to be safely entered into with doubtful
feelings, with half a heart.  I thought it my duty as a friend, and
older than yourself, to say thus much to you.  But do not imagine that
I want to influence you."

"Oh! no, I am sure you are a great deal too kind to--but if you would
just advise me what I had best do--No, no, I do not mean that--As you
say, one's mind ought to be quite made up--One should not be
hesitating--It is a very serious thing.--It will be safer to say 'No,'
perhaps.--Do you think I had better say 'No?'"

"Not for the world," said Emma, smiling graciously, "would I advise you
either way.  You must be the best judge of your own happiness.  If you
prefer Mr. Martin to every other person; if you think him the most
agreeable man you have ever been in company with, why should you
hesitate? You blush, Harriet.--Does any body else occur to you at this
moment under such a definition? Harriet, Harriet, do not deceive
yourself; do not be run away with by gratitude and compassion.  At this
moment whom are you thinking of?"

The symptoms were favourable.--Instead of answering, Harriet turned
away confused, and stood thoughtfully by the fire; and though the
letter was still in her hand, it was now mechanically twisted about
without regard.  Emma waited the result with impatience, but not
without strong hopes.  At last, with some hesitation, Harriet said--

"Miss Woodhouse, as you will not give me your opinion, I must do as
well as I can by myself; and I have now quite determined, and really
almost made up my mind--to refuse Mr. Martin.  Do you think I am right?"

"Perfectly, perfectly right, my dearest Harriet; you are doing just
what you ought.  While you were at all in suspense I kept my feelings
to myself, but now that you are so completely decided I have no
hesitation in approving.  Dear Harriet, I give myself joy of this.  It
would have grieved me to lose your acquaintance, which must have been
the consequence of your marrying Mr. Martin.  While you were in the
smallest degree wavering, I said nothing about it, because I would not
influence; but it would have been the loss of a friend to me.  I could
not have visited Mrs. Robert Martin, of Abbey-Mill Farm.  Now I am
secure of you for ever."

Harriet had not surmised her own danger, but the idea of it struck her
forcibly.

"You could not have visited me!" she cried, looking aghast.  "No, to be
sure you could not; but I never thought of that before.  That would
have been too dreadful!--What an escape!--Dear Miss Woodhouse, I would
not give up the pleasure and honour of being intimate with you for any
thing in the world."

"Indeed, Harriet, it would have been a severe pang to lose you; but it
must have been.  You would have thrown yourself out of all good
society.  I must have given you up."

"Dear me!--How should I ever have borne it! It would have killed me
never to come to Hartfield any more!"

"Dear affectionate creature!--_You_ banished to Abbey-Mill Farm!--_You_
confined to the society of the illiterate and vulgar all your life!  I
wonder how the young man could have the assurance to ask it.  He must
have a pretty good opinion of himself."

"I do not think he is conceited either, in general," said Harriet, her
conscience opposing such censure; "at least, he is very good natured,
and I shall always feel much obliged to him, and have a great regard
for--but that is quite a different thing from--and you know, though he
may like me, it does not follow that I should--and certainly I must
confess that since my visiting here I have seen people--and if one
comes to compare them, person and manners, there is no comparison at
all, _one_ is so very handsome and agreeable.  However, I do really
think Mr. Martin a very amiable young man, and have a great opinion of
him; and his being so much attached to me--and his writing such a
letter--but as to leaving you, it is what I would not do upon any
consideration."

"Thank you, thank you, my own sweet little friend.  We will not be
parted.  A woman is not to marry a man merely because she is asked, or
because he is attached to her, and can write a tolerable letter."

"Oh no;--and it is but a short letter too."

Emma felt the bad taste of her friend, but let it pass with a "very
true; and it would be a small consolation to her, for the clownish
manner which might be offending her every hour of the day, to know that
her husband could write a good letter."

"Oh! yes, very.  Nobody cares for a letter; the thing is, to be always
happy with pleasant companions.  I am quite determined to refuse him.
But how shall I do? What shall I say?"

Emma assured her there would be no difficulty in the answer, and
advised its being written directly, which was agreed to, in the hope of
her assistance; and though Emma continued to protest against any
assistance being wanted, it was in fact given in the formation of every
sentence.  The looking over his letter again, in replying to it, had
such a softening tendency, that it was particularly necessary to brace
her up with a few decisive expressions; and she was so very much
concerned at the idea of making him unhappy, and thought so much of
what his mother and sisters would think and say, and was so anxious
that they should not fancy her ungrateful, that Emma believed if the
young man had come in her way at that moment, he would have been
accepted after all.

This letter, however, was written, and sealed, and sent.  The business
was finished, and Harriet safe.  She was rather low all the evening,
but Emma could allow for her amiable regrets, and sometimes relieved
them by speaking of her own affection, sometimes by bringing forward
the idea of Mr. Elton.

"I shall never be invited to Abbey-Mill again," was said in rather a
sorrowful tone.

"Nor, if you were, could I ever bear to part with you, my Harriet.  You
are a great deal too necessary at Hartfield to be spared to Abbey-Mill."

"And I am sure I should never want to go there; for I am never happy
but at Hartfield."

Some time afterwards it was, "I think Mrs. Goddard would be very much
surprized if she knew what had happened.  I am sure Miss Nash
would--for Miss Nash thinks her own sister very well married, and it is
only a linen-draper."

"One should be sorry to see greater pride or refinement in the teacher
of a school, Harriet.  I dare say Miss Nash would envy you such an
opportunity as this of being married.  Even this conquest would appear
valuable in her eyes.  As to any thing superior for you, I suppose she
is quite in the dark.  The attentions of a certain person can hardly be
among the tittle-tattle of Highbury yet.  Hitherto I fancy you and I
are the only people to whom his looks and manners have explained
themselves."

Harriet blushed and smiled, and said something about wondering that
people should like her so much.  The idea of Mr. Elton was certainly
cheering; but still, after a time, she was tender-hearted again towards
the rejected Mr. Martin.

"Now he has got my letter," said she softly.  "I wonder what they are
all doing--whether his sisters know--if he is unhappy, they will be
unhappy too.  I hope he will not mind it so very much."

"Let us think of those among our absent friends who are more cheerfully
employed," cried Emma.  "At this moment, perhaps, Mr. Elton is shewing
your picture to his mother and sisters, telling how much more beautiful
is the original, and after being asked for it five or six times,
allowing them to hear your name, your own dear name."

"My picture!--But he has left my picture in Bond-street."

"Has he so!--Then I know nothing of Mr. Elton.  No, my dear little
modest Harriet, depend upon it the picture will not be in Bond-street
till just before he mounts his horse to-morrow.  It is his companion
all this evening, his solace, his delight.  It opens his designs to his
family, it introduces you among them, it diffuses through the party
those pleasantest feelings of our nature, eager curiosity and warm
prepossession.  How cheerful, how animated, how suspicious, how busy
their imaginations all are!"

Harriet smiled again, and her smiles grew stronger.



CHAPTER VIII


Harriet slept at Hartfield that night.  For some weeks past she had
been spending more than half her time there, and gradually getting to
have a bed-room appropriated to herself; and Emma judged it best in
every respect, safest and kindest, to keep her with them as much as
possible just at present.  She was obliged to go the next morning for
an hour or two to Mrs. Goddard's, but it was then to be settled that
she should return to Hartfield, to make a regular visit of some days.

While she was gone, Mr. Knightley called, and sat some time with Mr.
Woodhouse and Emma, till Mr. Woodhouse, who had previously made up his
mind to walk out, was persuaded by his daughter not to defer it, and
was induced by the entreaties of both, though against the scruples of
his own civility, to leave Mr. Knightley for that purpose.  Mr.
Knightley, who had nothing of ceremony about him, was offering by his
short, decided answers, an amusing contrast to the protracted apologies
and civil hesitations of the other.

"Well, I believe, if you will excuse me, Mr. Knightley, if you will not
consider me as doing a very rude thing, I shall take Emma's advice and
go out for a quarter of an hour.  As the sun is out, I believe I had
better take my three turns while I can.  I treat you without ceremony,
Mr. Knightley.  We invalids think we are privileged people."

"My dear sir, do not make a stranger of me."

"I leave an excellent substitute in my daughter.  Emma will be happy to
entertain you.  And therefore I think I will beg your excuse and take
my three turns--my winter walk."

"You cannot do better, sir."

"I would ask for the pleasure of your company, Mr. Knightley, but I am
a very slow walker, and my pace would be tedious to you; and, besides,
you have another long walk before you, to Donwell Abbey."

"Thank you, sir, thank you; I am going this moment myself; and I think
the sooner _you_ go the better.  I will fetch your greatcoat and open
the garden door for you."

Mr. Woodhouse at last was off; but Mr. Knightley, instead of being
immediately off likewise, sat down again, seemingly inclined for more
chat.  He began speaking of Harriet, and speaking of her with more
voluntary praise than Emma had ever heard before.

"I cannot rate her beauty as you do," said he; "but she is a pretty
little creature, and I am inclined to think very well of her
disposition.  Her character depends upon those she is with; but in good
hands she will turn out a valuable woman."

"I am glad you think so; and the good hands, I hope, may not be
wanting."

"Come," said he, "you are anxious for a compliment, so I will tell you
that you have improved her.  You have cured her of her school-girl's
giggle; she really does you credit."

"Thank you.  I should be mortified indeed if I did not believe I had
been of some use; but it is not every body who will bestow praise where
they may.  _You_ do not often overpower me with it."

"You are expecting her again, you say, this morning?"

"Almost every moment.  She has been gone longer already than she
intended."

"Something has happened to delay her; some visitors perhaps."

"Highbury gossips!--Tiresome wretches!"

"Harriet may not consider every body tiresome that you would."

Emma knew this was too true for contradiction, and therefore said
nothing.  He presently added, with a smile,

"I do not pretend to fix on times or places, but I must tell you that I
have good reason to believe your little friend will soon hear of
something to her advantage."

"Indeed! how so? of what sort?"

"A very serious sort, I assure you;" still smiling.

"Very serious! I can think of but one thing--Who is in love with her?
Who makes you their confidant?"

Emma was more than half in hopes of Mr. Elton's having dropt a hint.
Mr. Knightley was a sort of general friend and adviser, and she knew
Mr. Elton looked up to him.

"I have reason to think," he replied, "that Harriet Smith will soon
have an offer of marriage, and from a most unexceptionable
quarter:--Robert Martin is the man.  Her visit to Abbey-Mill, this
summer, seems to have done his business.  He is desperately in love and
means to marry her."

"He is very obliging," said Emma; "but is he sure that Harriet means to
marry him?"

"Well, well, means to make her an offer then.  Will that do? He came to
the Abbey two evenings ago, on purpose to consult me about it.  He
knows I have a thorough regard for him and all his family, and, I
believe, considers me as one of his best friends.  He came to ask me
whether I thought it would be imprudent in him to settle so early;
whether I thought her too young: in short, whether I approved his
choice altogether; having some apprehension perhaps of her being
considered (especially since _your_ making so much of her) as in a line
of society above him.  I was very much pleased with all that he said.
I never hear better sense from any one than Robert Martin.  He always
speaks to the purpose; open, straightforward, and very well judging.
He told me every thing; his circumstances and plans, and what they all
proposed doing in the event of his marriage.  He is an excellent young
man, both as son and brother.  I had no hesitation in advising him to
marry.  He proved to me that he could afford it; and that being the
case, I was convinced he could not do better.  I praised the fair lady
too, and altogether sent him away very happy.  If he had never esteemed
my opinion before, he would have thought highly of me then; and, I dare
say, left the house thinking me the best friend and counsellor man ever
had.  This happened the night before last.  Now, as we may fairly
suppose, he would not allow much time to pass before he spoke to the
lady, and as he does not appear to have spoken yesterday, it is not
unlikely that he should be at Mrs. Goddard's to-day; and she may be
detained by a visitor, without thinking him at all a tiresome wretch."

"Pray, Mr. Knightley," said Emma, who had been smiling to herself
through a great part of this speech, "how do you know that Mr. Martin
did not speak yesterday?"

"Certainly," replied he, surprized, "I do not absolutely know it; but
it may be inferred.  Was not she the whole day with you?"

"Come," said she, "I will tell you something, in return for what you
have told me.  He did speak yesterday--that is, he wrote, and was
refused."

This was obliged to be repeated before it could be believed; and Mr.
Knightley actually looked red with surprize and displeasure, as he
stood up, in tall indignation, and said,

"Then she is a greater simpleton than I ever believed her.  What is the
foolish girl about?"

"Oh! to be sure," cried Emma, "it is always incomprehensible to a man
that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage.  A man always
imagines a woman to be ready for any body who asks her."

"Nonsense! a man does not imagine any such thing.  But what is the
meaning of this? Harriet Smith refuse Robert Martin? madness, if it is
so; but I hope you are mistaken."

"I saw her answer!--nothing could be clearer."

"You saw her answer!--you wrote her answer too.  Emma, this is your
doing.  You persuaded her to refuse him."

"And if I did, (which, however, I am far from allowing) I should not
feel that I had done wrong.  Mr. Martin is a very respectable young
man, but I cannot admit him to be Harriet's equal; and am rather
surprized indeed that he should have ventured to address her.  By your
account, he does seem to have had some scruples.  It is a pity that
they were ever got over."

"Not Harriet's equal!" exclaimed Mr. Knightley loudly and warmly; and
with calmer asperity, added, a few moments afterwards, "No, he is not
her equal indeed, for he is as much her superior in sense as in
situation.  Emma, your infatuation about that girl blinds you.  What
are Harriet Smith's claims, either of birth, nature or education, to
any connexion higher than Robert Martin? She is the natural daughter of
nobody knows whom, with probably no settled provision at all, and
certainly no respectable relations.  She is known only as
parlour-boarder at a common school.  She is not a sensible girl, nor a
girl of any information.  She has been taught nothing useful, and is
too young and too simple to have acquired any thing herself.  At her
age she can have no experience, and with her little wit, is not very
likely ever to have any that can avail her.  She is pretty, and she is
good tempered, and that is all.  My only scruple in advising the match
was on his account, as being beneath his deserts, and a bad connexion
for him.  I felt that, as to fortune, in all probability he might do
much better; and that as to a rational companion or useful helpmate, he
could not do worse.  But I could not reason so to a man in love, and
was willing to trust to there being no harm in her, to her having that
sort of disposition, which, in good hands, like his, might be easily
led aright and turn out very well.  The advantage of the match I felt
to be all on her side; and had not the smallest doubt (nor have I now)
that there would be a general cry-out upon her extreme good luck.  Even
_your_ satisfaction I made sure of.  It crossed my mind immediately
that you would not regret your friend's leaving Highbury, for the sake
of her being settled so well.  I remember saying to myself, 'Even Emma,
with all her partiality for Harriet, will think this a good match.'"

"I cannot help wondering at your knowing so little of Emma as to say
any such thing.  What! think a farmer, (and with all his sense and all
his merit Mr. Martin is nothing more,) a good match for my intimate
friend! Not regret her leaving Highbury for the sake of marrying a man
whom I could never admit as an acquaintance of my own! I wonder you
should think it possible for me to have such feelings.  I assure you
mine are very different.  I must think your statement by no means fair.
You are not just to Harriet's claims.  They would be estimated very
differently by others as well as myself; Mr. Martin may be the richest
of the two, but he is undoubtedly her inferior as to rank in
society.--The sphere in which she moves is much above his.--It would be
a degradation."

"A degradation to illegitimacy and ignorance, to be married to a
respectable, intelligent gentleman-farmer!"

"As to the circumstances of her birth, though in a legal sense she may
be called Nobody, it will not hold in common sense.  She is not to pay
for the offence of others, by being held below the level of those with
whom she is brought up.--There can scarcely be a doubt that her father
is a gentleman--and a gentleman of fortune.--Her allowance is very
liberal; nothing has ever been grudged for her improvement or
comfort.--That she is a gentleman's daughter, is indubitable to me;
that she associates with gentlemen's daughters, no one, I apprehend,
will deny.--She is superior to Mr. Robert Martin."

"Whoever might be her parents," said Mr. Knightley, "whoever may have
had the charge of her, it does not appear to have been any part of
their plan to introduce her into what you would call good society.
After receiving a very indifferent education she is left in Mrs.
Goddard's hands to shift as she can;--to move, in short, in Mrs.
Goddard's line, to have Mrs. Goddard's acquaintance.  Her friends
evidently thought this good enough for her; and it _was_ good enough.
She desired nothing better herself.  Till you chose to turn her into a
friend, her mind had no distaste for her own set, nor any ambition
beyond it.  She was as happy as possible with the Martins in the
summer.  She had no sense of superiority then.  If she has it now, you
have given it.  You have been no friend to Harriet Smith, Emma.  Robert
Martin would never have proceeded so far, if he had not felt persuaded
of her not being disinclined to him.  I know him well.  He has too much
real feeling to address any woman on the haphazard of selfish passion.
And as to conceit, he is the farthest from it of any man I know.
Depend upon it he had encouragement."

It was most convenient to Emma not to make a direct reply to this
assertion; she chose rather to take up her own line of the subject
again.

"You are a very warm friend to Mr. Martin; but, as I said before, are
unjust to Harriet.  Harriet's claims to marry well are not so
contemptible as you represent them.  She is not a clever girl, but she
has better sense than you are aware of, and does not deserve to have
her understanding spoken of so slightingly.  Waiving that point,
however, and supposing her to be, as you describe her, only pretty and
good-natured, let me tell you, that in the degree she possesses them,
they are not trivial recommendations to the world in general, for she
is, in fact, a beautiful girl, and must be thought so by ninety-nine
people out of an hundred; and till it appears that men are much more
philosophic on the subject of beauty than they are generally supposed;
till they do fall in love with well-informed minds instead of handsome
faces, a girl, with such loveliness as Harriet, has a certainty of
being admired and sought after, of having the power of chusing from
among many, consequently a claim to be nice.  Her good-nature, too, is
not so very slight a claim, comprehending, as it does, real, thorough
sweetness of temper and manner, a very humble opinion of herself, and a
great readiness to be pleased with other people.  I am very much
mistaken if your sex in general would not think such beauty, and such
temper, the highest claims a woman could possess."

"Upon my word, Emma, to hear you abusing the reason you have, is almost
enough to make me think so too.  Better be without sense, than misapply
it as you do."

"To be sure!" cried she playfully.  "I know _that_ is the feeling of
you all.  I know that such a girl as Harriet is exactly what every man
delights in--what at once bewitches his senses and satisfies his
judgment.  Oh! Harriet may pick and chuse.  Were you, yourself, ever to
marry, she is the very woman for you.  And is she, at seventeen, just
entering into life, just beginning to be known, to be wondered at
because she does not accept the first offer she receives? No--pray let
her have time to look about her."

"I have always thought it a very foolish intimacy," said Mr. Knightley
presently, "though I have kept my thoughts to myself; but I now
perceive that it will be a very unfortunate one for Harriet.  You will
puff her up with such ideas of her own beauty, and of what she has a
claim to, that, in a little while, nobody within her reach will be good
enough for her.  Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of
mischief.  Nothing so easy as for a young lady to raise her
expectations too high.  Miss Harriet Smith may not find offers of
marriage flow in so fast, though she is a very pretty girl.  Men of
sense, whatever you may chuse to say, do not want silly wives.  Men of
family would not be very fond of connecting themselves with a girl of
such obscurity--and most prudent men would be afraid of the
inconvenience and disgrace they might be involved in, when the mystery
of her parentage came to be revealed.  Let her marry Robert Martin, and
she is safe, respectable, and happy for ever; but if you encourage her
to expect to marry greatly, and teach her to be satisfied with nothing
less than a man of consequence and large fortune, she may be a
parlour-boarder at Mrs. Goddard's all the rest of her life--or, at
least, (for Harriet Smith is a girl who will marry somebody or other,)
till she grow desperate, and is glad to catch at the old
writing-master's son."

"We think so very differently on this point, Mr. Knightley, that there
can be no use in canvassing it.  We shall only be making each other
more angry.  But as to my _letting_ her marry Robert Martin, it is
impossible; she has refused him, and so decidedly, I think, as must
prevent any second application.  She must abide by the evil of having
refused him, whatever it may be; and as to the refusal itself, I will
not pretend to say that I might not influence her a little; but I
assure you there was very little for me or for any body to do.  His
appearance is so much against him, and his manner so bad, that if she
ever were disposed to favour him, she is not now.  I can imagine, that
before she had seen any body superior, she might tolerate him.  He was
the brother of her friends, and he took pains to please her; and
altogether, having seen nobody better (that must have been his great
assistant) she might not, while she was at Abbey-Mill, find him
disagreeable.  But the case is altered now.  She knows now what
gentlemen are; and nothing but a gentleman in education and manner has
any chance with Harriet."

"Nonsense, errant nonsense, as ever was talked!" cried Mr.
Knightley.--"Robert Martin's manners have sense, sincerity, and
good-humour to recommend them; and his mind has more true gentility
than Harriet Smith could understand."

Emma made no answer, and tried to look cheerfully unconcerned, but was
really feeling uncomfortable and wanting him very much to be gone.  She
did not repent what she had done; she still thought herself a better
judge of such a point of female right and refinement than he could be;
but yet she had a sort of habitual respect for his judgment in general,
which made her dislike having it so loudly against her; and to have him
sitting just opposite to her in angry state, was very disagreeable.
Some minutes passed in this unpleasant silence, with only one attempt
on Emma's side to talk of the weather, but he made no answer.  He was
thinking.  The result of his thoughts appeared at last in these words.

"Robert Martin has no great loss--if he can but think so; and I hope it
will not be long before he does.  Your views for Harriet are best known
to yourself; but as you make no secret of your love of match-making, it
is fair to suppose that views, and plans, and projects you have;--and
as a friend I shall just hint to you that if Elton is the man, I think
it will be all labour in vain."

Emma laughed and disclaimed.  He continued,

"Depend upon it, Elton will not do.  Elton is a very good sort of man,
and a very respectable vicar of Highbury, but not at all likely to make
an imprudent match.  He knows the value of a good income as well as any
body.  Elton may talk sentimentally, but he will act rationally.  He is
as well acquainted with his own claims, as you can be with Harriet's.
He knows that he is a very handsome young man, and a great favourite
wherever he goes; and from his general way of talking in unreserved
moments, when there are only men present, I am convinced that he does
not mean to throw himself away.  I have heard him speak with great
animation of a large family of young ladies that his sisters are
intimate with, who have all twenty thousand pounds apiece."

"I am very much obliged to you," said Emma, laughing again.  "If I had
set my heart on Mr. Elton's marrying Harriet, it would have been very
kind to open my eyes; but at present I only want to keep Harriet to
myself.  I have done with match-making indeed.  I could never hope to
equal my own doings at Randalls.  I shall leave off while I am well."

"Good morning to you,"--said he, rising and walking off abruptly.  He
was very much vexed.  He felt the disappointment of the young man, and
was mortified to have been the means of promoting it, by the sanction
he had given; and the part which he was persuaded Emma had taken in the
affair, was provoking him exceedingly.

Emma remained in a state of vexation too; but there was more
indistinctness in the causes of her's, than in his.  She did not always
feel so absolutely satisfied with herself, so entirely convinced that
her opinions were right and her adversary's wrong, as Mr. Knightley.
He walked off in more complete self-approbation than he left for her.
She was not so materially cast down, however, but that a little time
and the return of Harriet were very adequate restoratives.  Harriet's
staying away so long was beginning to make her uneasy.  The possibility
of the young man's coming to Mrs. Goddard's that morning, and meeting
with Harriet and pleading his own cause, gave alarming ideas.  The
dread of such a failure after all became the prominent uneasiness; and
when Harriet appeared, and in very good spirits, and without having any
such reason to give for her long absence, she felt a satisfaction which
settled her with her own mind, and convinced her, that let Mr.
Knightley think or say what he would, she had done nothing which
woman's friendship and woman's feelings would not justify.

He had frightened her a little about Mr. Elton; but when she considered
that Mr. Knightley could not have observed him as she had done, neither
with the interest, nor (she must be allowed to tell herself, in spite
of Mr. Knightley's pretensions) with the skill of such an observer on
such a question as herself, that he had spoken it hastily and in anger,
she was able to believe, that he had rather said what he wished
resentfully to be true, than what he knew any thing about.  He
certainly might have heard Mr. Elton speak with more unreserve than she
had ever done, and Mr. Elton might not be of an imprudent,
inconsiderate disposition as to money matters; he might naturally be
rather attentive than otherwise to them; but then, Mr. Knightley did
not make due allowance for the influence of a strong passion at war
with all interested motives.  Mr. Knightley saw no such passion, and of
course thought nothing of its effects; but she saw too much of it to
feel a doubt of its overcoming any hesitations that a reasonable
prudence might originally suggest; and more than a reasonable, becoming
degree of prudence, she was very sure did not belong to Mr. Elton.

Harriet's cheerful look and manner established hers: she came back, not
to think of Mr. Martin, but to talk of Mr. Elton.  Miss Nash had been
telling her something, which she repeated immediately with great
delight.  Mr. Perry had been to Mrs. Goddard's to attend a sick child,
and Miss Nash had seen him, and he had told Miss Nash, that as he was
coming back yesterday from Clayton Park, he had met Mr. Elton, and
found to his great surprize, that Mr. Elton was actually on his road to
London, and not meaning to return till the morrow, though it was the
whist-club night, which he had been never known to miss before; and Mr.
Perry had remonstrated with him about it, and told him how shabby it
was in him, their best player, to absent himself, and tried very much
to persuade him to put off his journey only one day; but it would not
do; Mr. Elton had been determined to go on, and had said in a _very_
_particular_ way indeed, that he was going on business which he would
not put off for any inducement in the world; and something about a very
enviable commission, and being the bearer of something exceedingly
precious.  Mr. Perry could not quite understand him, but he was very
sure there must be a _lady_ in the case, and he told him so; and Mr.
Elton only looked very conscious and smiling, and rode off in great
spirits.  Miss Nash had told her all this, and had talked a great deal
more about Mr. Elton; and said, looking so very significantly at her,
"that she did not pretend to understand what his business might be, but
she only knew that any woman whom Mr. Elton could prefer, she should
think the luckiest woman in the world; for, beyond a doubt, Mr. Elton
had not his equal for beauty or agreeableness."



CHAPTER IX


Mr. Knightley might quarrel with her, but Emma could not quarrel with
herself.  He was so much displeased, that it was longer than usual
before he came to Hartfield again; and when they did meet, his grave
looks shewed that she was not forgiven.  She was sorry, but could not
repent.  On the contrary, her plans and proceedings were more and more
justified and endeared to her by the general appearances of the next
few days.

The Picture, elegantly framed, came safely to hand soon after Mr.
Elton's return, and being hung over the mantelpiece of the common
sitting-room, he got up to look at it, and sighed out his half
sentences of admiration just as he ought; and as for Harriet's
feelings, they were visibly forming themselves into as strong and
steady an attachment as her youth and sort of mind admitted.  Emma was
soon perfectly satisfied of Mr. Martin's being no otherwise remembered,
than as he furnished a contrast with Mr. Elton, of the utmost advantage
to the latter.

Her views of improving her little friend's mind, by a great deal of
useful reading and conversation, had never yet led to more than a few
first chapters, and the intention of going on to-morrow.  It was much
easier to chat than to study; much pleasanter to let her imagination
range and work at Harriet's fortune, than to be labouring to enlarge
her comprehension or exercise it on sober facts; and the only literary
pursuit which engaged Harriet at present, the only mental provision she
was making for the evening of life, was the collecting and transcribing
all the riddles of every sort that she could meet with, into a thin
quarto of hot-pressed paper, made up by her friend, and ornamented with
ciphers and trophies.

In this age of literature, such collections on a very grand scale are
not uncommon.  Miss Nash, head-teacher at Mrs. Goddard's, had written
out at least three hundred; and Harriet, who had taken the first hint
of it from her, hoped, with Miss Woodhouse's help, to get a great many
more.  Emma assisted with her invention, memory and taste; and as
Harriet wrote a very pretty hand, it was likely to be an arrangement of
the first order, in form as well as quantity.

Mr. Woodhouse was almost as much interested in the business as the
girls, and tried very often to recollect something worth their putting
in.  "So many clever riddles as there used to be when he was young--he
wondered he could not remember them! but he hoped he should in time."
And it always ended in "Kitty, a fair but frozen maid."

His good friend Perry, too, whom he had spoken to on the subject, did
not at present recollect any thing of the riddle kind; but he had
desired Perry to be upon the watch, and as he went about so much,
something, he thought, might come from that quarter.

It was by no means his daughter's wish that the intellects of Highbury
in general should be put under requisition.  Mr. Elton was the only one
whose assistance she asked.  He was invited to contribute any really
good enigmas, charades, or conundrums that he might recollect; and she
had the pleasure of seeing him most intently at work with his
recollections; and at the same time, as she could perceive, most
earnestly careful that nothing ungallant, nothing that did not breathe
a compliment to the sex should pass his lips.  They owed to him their
two or three politest puzzles; and the joy and exultation with which at
last he recalled, and rather sentimentally recited, that well-known
charade,

    My first doth affliction denote,
      Which my second is destin'd to feel
    And my whole is the best antidote
      That affliction to soften and heal.--

made her quite sorry to acknowledge that they had transcribed it some
pages ago already.

"Why will not you write one yourself for us, Mr. Elton?" said she;
"that is the only security for its freshness; and nothing could be
easier to you."

"Oh no! he had never written, hardly ever, any thing of the kind in his
life.  The stupidest fellow! He was afraid not even Miss Woodhouse"--he
stopt a moment--"or Miss Smith could inspire him."

The very next day however produced some proof of inspiration.  He
called for a few moments, just to leave a piece of paper on the table
containing, as he said, a charade, which a friend of his had addressed
to a young lady, the object of his admiration, but which, from his
manner, Emma was immediately convinced must be his own.

"I do not offer it for Miss Smith's collection," said he.  "Being my
friend's, I have no right to expose it in any degree to the public eye,
but perhaps you may not dislike looking at it."

The speech was more to Emma than to Harriet, which Emma could
understand.  There was deep consciousness about him, and he found it
easier to meet her eye than her friend's.  He was gone the next
moment:--after another moment's pause,

"Take it," said Emma, smiling, and pushing the paper towards
Harriet--"it is for you.  Take your own."

But Harriet was in a tremor, and could not touch it; and Emma, never
loth to be first, was obliged to examine it herself.

        To Miss--

          CHARADE.

    My first displays the wealth and pomp of kings,
      Lords of the earth! their luxury and ease.
    Another view of man, my second brings,
      Behold him there, the monarch of the seas!

    But ah! united, what reverse we have!
      Man's boasted power and freedom, all are flown;
    Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a slave,
      And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone.

      Thy ready wit the word will soon supply,
      May its approval beam in that soft eye!

She cast her eye over it, pondered, caught the meaning, read it through
again to be quite certain, and quite mistress of the lines, and then
passing it to Harriet, sat happily smiling, and saying to herself,
while Harriet was puzzling over the paper in all the confusion of hope
and dulness, "Very well, Mr. Elton, very well indeed.  I have read
worse charades.  _Courtship_--a very good hint.  I give you credit for
it.  This is feeling your way.  This is saying very plainly--'Pray,
Miss Smith, give me leave to pay my addresses to you.  Approve my
charade and my intentions in the same glance.'

      May its approval beam in that soft eye!

Harriet exactly.  Soft is the very word for her eye--of all epithets,
the justest that could be given.

      Thy ready wit the word will soon supply.

Humph--Harriet's ready wit! All the better.  A man must be very much in
love, indeed, to describe her so.  Ah! Mr. Knightley, I wish you had
the benefit of this; I think this would convince you.  For once in your
life you would be obliged to own yourself mistaken.  An excellent
charade indeed! and very much to the purpose.  Things must come to a
crisis soon now.

She was obliged to break off from these very pleasant observations,
which were otherwise of a sort to run into great length, by the
eagerness of Harriet's wondering questions.

"What can it be, Miss Woodhouse?--what can it be? I have not an idea--I
cannot guess it in the least.  What can it possibly be? Do try to find
it out, Miss Woodhouse.  Do help me.  I never saw any thing so hard.
Is it kingdom? I wonder who the friend was--and who could be the young
lady.  Do you think it is a good one? Can it be woman?

      And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone.

Can it be Neptune?

      Behold him there, the monarch of the seas!

Or a trident? or a mermaid? or a shark? Oh, no! shark is only one
syllable.  It must be very clever, or he would not have brought it.
Oh! Miss Woodhouse, do you think we shall ever find it out?"

"Mermaids and sharks! Nonsense! My dear Harriet, what are you thinking
of? Where would be the use of his bringing us a charade made by a
friend upon a mermaid or a shark? Give me the paper and listen.

For Miss ------, read Miss Smith.

    My first displays the wealth and pomp of kings,
      Lords of the earth! their luxury and ease.

That is _court_.

    Another view of man, my second brings;
      Behold him there, the monarch of the seas!

That is _ship_;--plain as it can be.--Now for the cream.

    But ah! united, (_courtship_, you know,) what reverse we have!
      Man's boasted power and freedom, all are flown.
    Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a slave,
      And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone.

A very proper compliment!--and then follows the application, which I
think, my dear Harriet, you cannot find much difficulty in
comprehending.  Read it in comfort to yourself.  There can be no doubt
of its being written for you and to you."

Harriet could not long resist so delightful a persuasion.  She read the
concluding lines, and was all flutter and happiness.  She could not
speak.  But she was not wanted to speak.  It was enough for her to
feel.  Emma spoke for her.

"There is so pointed, and so particular a meaning in this compliment,"
said she, "that I cannot have a doubt as to Mr. Elton's intentions.
You are his object--and you will soon receive the completest proof of
it.  I thought it must be so.  I thought I could not be so deceived;
but now, it is clear; the state of his mind is as clear and decided, as
my wishes on the subject have been ever since I knew you.  Yes,
Harriet, just so long have I been wanting the very circumstance to
happen what has happened.  I could never tell whether an attachment
between you and Mr. Elton were most desirable or most natural.  Its
probability and its eligibility have really so equalled each other! I
am very happy.  I congratulate you, my dear Harriet, with all my heart.
This is an attachment which a woman may well feel pride in creating.
This is a connexion which offers nothing but good.  It will give you
every thing that you want--consideration, independence, a proper
home--it will fix you in the centre of all your real friends, close to
Hartfield and to me, and confirm our intimacy for ever.  This, Harriet,
is an alliance which can never raise a blush in either of us."

"Dear Miss Woodhouse!"--and "Dear Miss Woodhouse," was all that
Harriet, with many tender embraces could articulate at first; but when
they did arrive at something more like conversation, it was
sufficiently clear to her friend that she saw, felt, anticipated, and
remembered just as she ought.  Mr. Elton's superiority had very ample
acknowledgment.

"Whatever you say is always right," cried Harriet, "and therefore I
suppose, and believe, and hope it must be so; but otherwise I could not
have imagined it.  It is so much beyond any thing I deserve.  Mr.
Elton, who might marry any body! There cannot be two opinions about
_him_.  He is so very superior.  Only think of those sweet verses--'To
Miss ------.' Dear me, how clever!--Could it really be meant for me?"

"I cannot make a question, or listen to a question about that.  It is a
certainty.  Receive it on my judgment.  It is a sort of prologue to the
play, a motto to the chapter; and will be soon followed by
matter-of-fact prose."

"It is a sort of thing which nobody could have expected.  I am sure, a
month ago, I had no more idea myself!--The strangest things do take
place!"

"When Miss Smiths and Mr. Eltons get acquainted--they do indeed--and
really it is strange; it is out of the common course that what is so
evidently, so palpably desirable--what courts the pre-arrangement of
other people, should so immediately shape itself into the proper form.
You and Mr. Elton are by situation called together; you belong to one
another by every circumstance of your respective homes.  Your marrying
will be equal to the match at Randalls.  There does seem to be a
something in the air of Hartfield which gives love exactly the right
direction, and sends it into the very channel where it ought to flow.

      The course of true love never did run smooth--

A Hartfield edition of Shakespeare would have a long note on that
passage."

"That Mr. Elton should really be in love with me,--me, of all people,
who did not know him, to speak to him, at Michaelmas! And he, the very
handsomest man that ever was, and a man that every body looks up to,
quite like Mr. Knightley! His company so sought after, that every body
says he need not eat a single meal by himself if he does not chuse it;
that he has more invitations than there are days in the week.  And so
excellent in the Church! Miss Nash has put down all the texts he has
ever preached from since he came to Highbury.  Dear me! When I look
back to the first time I saw him! How little did I think!--The two
Abbots and I ran into the front room and peeped through the blind when
we heard he was going by, and Miss Nash came and scolded us away, and
staid to look through herself; however, she called me back presently,
and let me look too, which was very good-natured. And how beautiful we
thought he looked!  He was arm-in-arm with Mr. Cole."

"This is an alliance which, whoever--whatever your friends may be, must
be agreeable to them, provided at least they have common sense; and we
are not to be addressing our conduct to fools.  If they are anxious to
see you _happily_ married, here is a man whose amiable character gives
every assurance of it;--if they wish to have you settled in the same
country and circle which they have chosen to place you in, here it will
be accomplished; and if their only object is that you should, in the
common phrase, be _well_ married, here is the comfortable fortune, the
respectable establishment, the rise in the world which must satisfy
them."

"Yes, very true.  How nicely you talk; I love to hear you.  You
understand every thing.  You and Mr. Elton are one as clever as the
other.  This charade!--If I had studied a twelvemonth, I could never
have made any thing like it."

"I thought he meant to try his skill, by his manner of declining it
yesterday."

"I do think it is, without exception, the best charade I ever read."

"I never read one more to the purpose, certainly."

"It is as long again as almost all we have had before."

"I do not consider its length as particularly in its favour.  Such
things in general cannot be too short."

Harriet was too intent on the lines to hear.  The most satisfactory
comparisons were rising in her mind.

"It is one thing," said she, presently--her cheeks in a glow--"to have
very good sense in a common way, like every body else, and if there is
any thing to say, to sit down and write a letter, and say just what you
must, in a short way; and another, to write verses and charades like
this."

Emma could not have desired a more spirited rejection of Mr. Martin's
prose.

"Such sweet lines!" continued Harriet--"these two last!--But how shall
I ever be able to return the paper, or say I have found it out?--Oh!
Miss Woodhouse, what can we do about that?"

"Leave it to me.  You do nothing.  He will be here this evening, I dare
say, and then I will give it him back, and some nonsense or other will
pass between us, and you shall not be committed.--Your soft eyes shall
chuse their own time for beaming.  Trust to me."

"Oh! Miss Woodhouse, what a pity that I must not write this beautiful
charade into my book! I am sure I have not got one half so good."

"Leave out the two last lines, and there is no reason why you should
not write it into your book."

"Oh! but those two lines are"--

--"The best of all.  Granted;--for private enjoyment; and for private
enjoyment keep them.  They are not at all the less written you know,
because you divide them.  The couplet does not cease to be, nor does
its meaning change.  But take it away, and all _appropriation_ ceases,
and a very pretty gallant charade remains, fit for any collection.
Depend upon it, he would not like to have his charade slighted, much
better than his passion.  A poet in love must be encouraged in both
capacities, or neither.  Give me the book, I will write it down, and
then there can be no possible reflection on you."

Harriet submitted, though her mind could hardly separate the parts, so
as to feel quite sure that her friend were not writing down a
declaration of love.  It seemed too precious an offering for any degree
of publicity.

"I shall never let that book go out of my own hands," said she.

"Very well," replied Emma; "a most natural feeling; and the longer it
lasts, the better I shall be pleased.  But here is my father coming:
you will not object to my reading the charade to him.  It will be
giving him so much pleasure! He loves any thing of the sort, and
especially any thing that pays woman a compliment.  He has the
tenderest spirit of gallantry towards us all!--You must let me read it
to him."

Harriet looked grave.

"My dear Harriet, you must not refine too much upon this charade.--You
will betray your feelings improperly, if you are too conscious and too
quick, and appear to affix more meaning, or even quite all the meaning
which may be affixed to it.  Do not be overpowered by such a little
tribute of admiration.  If he had been anxious for secrecy, he would
not have left the paper while I was by; but he rather pushed it towards
me than towards you.  Do not let us be too solemn on the business.  He
has encouragement enough to proceed, without our sighing out our souls
over this charade."

"Oh! no--I hope I shall not be ridiculous about it.  Do as you please."

Mr. Woodhouse came in, and very soon led to the subject again, by the
recurrence of his very frequent inquiry of "Well, my dears, how does
your book go on?--Have you got any thing fresh?"

"Yes, papa; we have something to read you, something quite fresh.  A
piece of paper was found on the table this morning--(dropt, we suppose,
by a fairy)--containing a very pretty charade, and we have just copied
it in."

She read it to him, just as he liked to have any thing read, slowly and
distinctly, and two or three times over, with explanations of every
part as she proceeded--and he was very much pleased, and, as she had
foreseen, especially struck with the complimentary conclusion.

"Aye, that's very just, indeed, that's very properly said.  Very true.
'Woman, lovely woman.' It is such a pretty charade, my dear, that I can
easily guess what fairy brought it.--Nobody could have written so
prettily, but you, Emma."

Emma only nodded, and smiled.--After a little thinking, and a very
tender sigh, he added,

"Ah! it is no difficulty to see who you take after! Your dear mother
was so clever at all those things! If I had but her memory! But I can
remember nothing;--not even that particular riddle which you have heard
me mention; I can only recollect the first stanza; and there are
several.

    Kitty, a fair but frozen maid,
      Kindled a flame I yet deplore,
    The hood-wink'd boy I called to aid,
    Though of his near approach afraid,
      So fatal to my suit before.

And that is all that I can recollect of it--but it is very clever all
the way through.  But I think, my dear, you said you had got it."

"Yes, papa, it is written out in our second page.  We copied it from
the Elegant Extracts.  It was Garrick's, you know."

"Aye, very true.--I wish I could recollect more of it.

    Kitty, a fair but frozen maid.

The name makes me think of poor Isabella; for she was very near being
christened Catherine after her grandmama.  I hope we shall have her
here next week.  Have you thought, my dear, where you shall put
her--and what room there will be for the children?"

"Oh! yes--she will have her own room, of course; the room she always
has;--and there is the nursery for the children,--just as usual, you
know.  Why should there be any change?"

"I do not know, my dear--but it is so long since she was here!--not
since last Easter, and then only for a few days.--Mr. John Knightley's
being a lawyer is very inconvenient.--Poor Isabella!--she is sadly
taken away from us all!--and how sorry she will be when she comes, not
to see Miss Taylor here!"

"She will not be surprized, papa, at least."

"I do not know, my dear.  I am sure I was very much surprized when I
first heard she was going to be married."

"We must ask Mr. and Mrs. Weston to dine with us, while Isabella is
here."

"Yes, my dear, if there is time.--But--(in a very depressed tone)--she
is coming for only one week.  There will not be time for any thing."

"It is unfortunate that they cannot stay longer--but it seems a case of
necessity.  Mr. John Knightley must be in town again on the 28th, and
we ought to be thankful, papa, that we are to have the whole of the
time they can give to the country, that two or three days are not to be
taken out for the Abbey.  Mr. Knightley promises to give up his claim
this Christmas--though you know it is longer since they were with him,
than with us."

"It would be very hard, indeed, my dear, if poor Isabella were to be
anywhere but at Hartfield."

Mr. Woodhouse could never allow for Mr. Knightley's claims on his
brother, or any body's claims on Isabella, except his own.  He sat
musing a little while, and then said,

"But I do not see why poor Isabella should be obliged to go back so
soon, though he does.  I think, Emma, I shall try and persuade her to
stay longer with us.  She and the children might stay very well."

"Ah! papa--that is what you never have been able to accomplish, and I
do not think you ever will.  Isabella cannot bear to stay behind her
husband."

This was too true for contradiction.  Unwelcome as it was, Mr.
Woodhouse could only give a submissive sigh; and as Emma saw his
spirits affected by the idea of his daughter's attachment to her
husband, she immediately led to such a branch of the subject as must
raise them.

"Harriet must give us as much of her company as she can while my
brother and sister are here.  I am sure she will be pleased with the
children.  We are very proud of the children, are not we, papa? I
wonder which she will think the handsomest, Henry or John?"

"Aye, I wonder which she will.  Poor little dears, how glad they will
be to come.  They are very fond of being at Hartfield, Harriet."

"I dare say they are, sir.  I am sure I do not know who is not."

"Henry is a fine boy, but John is very like his mama.  Henry is the
eldest, he was named after me, not after his father.  John, the second,
is named after his father.  Some people are surprized, I believe, that
the eldest was not, but Isabella would have him called Henry, which I
thought very pretty of her.  And he is a very clever boy, indeed.  They
are all remarkably clever; and they have so many pretty ways.  They
will come and stand by my chair, and say, 'Grandpapa, can you give me a
bit of string?' and once Henry asked me for a knife, but I told him
knives were only made for grandpapas.  I think their father is too
rough with them very often."

"He appears rough to you," said Emma, "because you are so very gentle
yourself; but if you could compare him with other papas, you would not
think him rough.  He wishes his boys to be active and hardy; and if
they misbehave, can give them a sharp word now and then; but he is an
affectionate father--certainly Mr. John Knightley is an affectionate
father.  The children are all fond of him."

"And then their uncle comes in, and tosses them up to the ceiling in a
very frightful way!"

"But they like it, papa; there is nothing they like so much.  It is
such enjoyment to them, that if their uncle did not lay down the rule
of their taking turns, whichever began would never give way to the
other."

"Well, I cannot understand it."

"That is the case with us all, papa.  One half of the world cannot
understand the pleasures of the other."

Later in the morning, and just as the girls were going to separate in
preparation for the regular four o'clock dinner, the hero of this
inimitable charade walked in again.  Harriet turned away; but Emma
could receive him with the usual smile, and her quick eye soon
discerned in his the consciousness of having made a push--of having
thrown a die; and she imagined he was come to see how it might turn up.
His ostensible reason, however, was to ask whether Mr. Woodhouse's
party could be made up in the evening without him, or whether he should
be in the smallest degree necessary at Hartfield.  If he were, every
thing else must give way; but otherwise his friend Cole had been saying
so much about his dining with him--had made such a point of it, that he
had promised him conditionally to come.

Emma thanked him, but could not allow of his disappointing his friend
on their account; her father was sure of his rubber.  He re-urged--she
re-declined; and he seemed then about to make his bow, when taking the
paper from the table, she returned it--

"Oh! here is the charade you were so obliging as to leave with us;
thank you for the sight of it.  We admired it so much, that I have
ventured to write it into Miss Smith's collection.  Your friend will
not take it amiss I hope.  Of course I have not transcribed beyond the
first eight lines."

Mr. Elton certainly did not very well know what to say.  He looked
rather doubtingly--rather confused; said something about
"honour,"--glanced at Emma and at Harriet, and then seeing the book
open on the table, took it up, and examined it very attentively.  With
the view of passing off an awkward moment, Emma smilingly said,

"You must make my apologies to your friend; but so good a charade must
not be confined to one or two.  He may be sure of every woman's
approbation while he writes with such gallantry."

"I have no hesitation in saying," replied Mr. Elton, though hesitating
a good deal while he spoke; "I have no hesitation in saying--at least
if my friend feels at all as _I_ do--I have not the smallest doubt
that, could he see his little effusion honoured as _I_ see it, (looking
at the book again, and replacing it on the table), he would consider it
as the proudest moment of his life."

After this speech he was gone as soon as possible.  Emma could not
think it too soon; for with all his good and agreeable qualities, there
was a sort of parade in his speeches which was very apt to incline her
to laugh.  She ran away to indulge the inclination, leaving the tender
and the sublime of pleasure to Harriet's share.



CHAPTER X


Though now the middle of December, there had yet been no weather to
prevent the young ladies from tolerably regular exercise; and on the
morrow, Emma had a charitable visit to pay to a poor sick family, who
lived a little way out of Highbury.

Their road to this detached cottage was down Vicarage Lane, a lane
leading at right angles from the broad, though irregular, main street
of the place; and, as may be inferred, containing the blessed abode of
Mr. Elton.  A few inferior dwellings were first to be passed, and then,
about a quarter of a mile down the lane rose the Vicarage, an old and
not very good house, almost as close to the road as it could be.  It
had no advantage of situation; but had been very much smartened up by
the present proprietor; and, such as it was, there could be no
possibility of the two friends passing it without a slackened pace and
observing eyes.--Emma's remark was--

"There it is.  There go you and your riddle-book one of these days."--
Harriet's was--

"Oh, what a sweet house!--How very beautiful!--There are the yellow
curtains that Miss Nash admires so much."

"I do not often walk this way _now_," said Emma, as they proceeded,
"but _then_ there will be an inducement, and I shall gradually get
intimately acquainted with all the hedges, gates, pools and pollards of
this part of Highbury."

Harriet, she found, had never in her life been within side the
Vicarage, and her curiosity to see it was so extreme, that, considering
exteriors and probabilities, Emma could only class it, as a proof of
love, with Mr. Elton's seeing ready wit in her.

"I wish we could contrive it," said she; "but I cannot think of any
tolerable pretence for going in;--no servant that I want to inquire
about of his housekeeper--no message from my father."

She pondered, but could think of nothing.  After a mutual silence of
some minutes, Harriet thus began again--

"I do so wonder, Miss Woodhouse, that you should not be married, or
going to be married! so charming as you are!"--

Emma laughed, and replied,

"My being charming, Harriet, is not quite enough to induce me to marry;
I must find other people charming--one other person at least.  And I am
not only, not going to be married, at present, but have very little
intention of ever marrying at all."

"Ah!--so you say; but I cannot believe it."

"I must see somebody very superior to any one I have seen yet, to be
tempted; Mr. Elton, you know, (recollecting herself,) is out of the
question:  and I do _not_ wish to see any such person.  I would rather
not be tempted.  I cannot really change for the better.  If I were to
marry, I must expect to repent it."

"Dear me!--it is so odd to hear a woman talk so!"--

"I have none of the usual inducements of women to marry.  Were I to
fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing!  but I never have
been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever
shall.  And, without love, I am sure I should be a fool to change such
a situation as mine.  Fortune I do not want; employment I do not want;
consequence I do not want: I believe few married women are half as much
mistress of their husband's house as I am of Hartfield; and never,
never could I expect to be so truly beloved and important; so always
first and always right in any man's eyes as I am in my father's."

"But then, to be an old maid at last, like Miss Bates!"

"That is as formidable an image as you could present, Harriet; and if I
thought I should ever be like Miss Bates! so silly--so satisfied--so
smiling--so prosing--so undistinguishing and unfastidious--and so apt
to tell every thing relative to every body about me, I would marry
to-morrow. But between _us_, I am convinced there never can be any
likeness, except in being unmarried."

"But still, you will be an old maid! and that's so dreadful!"

"Never mind, Harriet, I shall not be a poor old maid; and it is poverty
only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public!  A single
woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable
old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls, but a single woman, of
good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and
pleasant as any body else.  And the distinction is not quite so much
against the candour and common sense of the world as appears at first;
for a very narrow income has a tendency to contract the mind, and sour
the temper.  Those who can barely live, and who live perforce in a very
small, and generally very inferior, society, may well be illiberal and
cross.  This does not apply, however, to Miss Bates; she is only too
good natured and too silly to suit me; but, in general, she is very
much to the taste of every body, though single and though poor.
Poverty certainly has not contracted her mind:  I really believe, if
she had only a shilling in the world, she would be very likely to give
away sixpence of it; and nobody is afraid of her:  that is a great
charm."

"Dear me! but what shall you do? how shall you employ yourself when you
grow old?"

"If I know myself, Harriet, mine is an active, busy mind, with a great
many independent resources; and I do not perceive why I should be more
in want of employment at forty or fifty than one-and-twenty.  Woman's
usual occupations of hand and mind will be as open to me then as they
are now; or with no important variation.  If I draw less, I shall read
more; if I give up music, I shall take to carpet-work.  And as for
objects of interest, objects for the affections, which is in truth the
great point of inferiority, the want of which is really the great evil
to be avoided in _not_ marrying, I shall be very well off, with all the
children of a sister I love so much, to care about.  There will be
enough of them, in all probability, to supply every sort of sensation
that declining life can need.  There will be enough for every hope and
every fear; and though my attachment to none can equal that of a
parent, it suits my ideas of comfort better than what is warmer and
blinder.  My nephews and nieces!--I shall often have a niece with me."

"Do you know Miss Bates's niece?  That is, I know you must have seen
her a hundred times--but are you acquainted?"

"Oh! yes; we are always forced to be acquainted whenever she comes to
Highbury.  By the bye, _that_ is almost enough to put one out of
conceit with a niece.  Heaven forbid! at least, that I should ever bore
people half so much about all the Knightleys together, as she does
about Jane Fairfax.  One is sick of the very name of Jane Fairfax.
Every letter from her is read forty times over; her compliments to all
friends go round and round again; and if she does but send her aunt the
pattern of a stomacher, or knit a pair of garters for her grandmother,
one hears of nothing else for a month.  I wish Jane Fairfax very well;
but she tires me to death."

They were now approaching the cottage, and all idle topics were
superseded.  Emma was very compassionate; and the distresses of the
poor were as sure of relief from her personal attention and kindness,
her counsel and her patience, as from her purse.  She understood their
ways, could allow for their ignorance and their temptations, had no
romantic expectations of extraordinary virtue from those for whom
education had done so little; entered into their troubles with ready
sympathy, and always gave her assistance with as much intelligence as
good-will.  In the present instance, it was sickness and poverty
together which she came to visit; and after remaining there as long as
she could give comfort or advice, she quitted the cottage with such an
impression of the scene as made her say to Harriet, as they walked away,

"These are the sights, Harriet, to do one good.  How trifling they make
every thing else appear!--I feel now as if I could think of nothing but
these poor creatures all the rest of the day; and yet, who can say how
soon it may all vanish from my mind?"

"Very true," said Harriet.  "Poor creatures! one can think of nothing
else."

"And really, I do not think the impression will soon be over," said
Emma, as she crossed the low hedge, and tottering footstep which ended
the narrow, slippery path through the cottage garden, and brought them
into the lane again.  "I do not think it will," stopping to look once
more at all the outward wretchedness of the place, and recall the still
greater within.

"Oh! dear, no," said her companion.

They walked on.  The lane made a slight bend; and when that bend was
passed, Mr. Elton was immediately in sight; and so near as to give Emma
time only to say farther,

"Ah!  Harriet, here comes a very sudden trial of our stability in good
thoughts.  Well, (smiling,) I hope it may be allowed that if compassion
has produced exertion and relief to the sufferers, it has done all that
is truly important.  If we feel for the wretched, enough to do all we
can for them, the rest is empty sympathy, only distressing to
ourselves."

Harriet could just answer, "Oh! dear, yes," before the gentleman joined
them.  The wants and sufferings of the poor family, however, were the
first subject on meeting.  He had been going to call on them.  His
visit he would now defer; but they had a very interesting parley about
what could be done and should be done.  Mr. Elton then turned back to
accompany them.

"To fall in with each other on such an errand as this," thought Emma;
"to meet in a charitable scheme; this will bring a great increase of
love on each side.  I should not wonder if it were to bring on the
declaration.  It must, if I were not here.  I wish I were anywhere
else."

Anxious to separate herself from them as far as she could, she soon
afterwards took possession of a narrow footpath, a little raised on one
side of the lane, leaving them together in the main road.  But she had
not been there two minutes when she found that Harriet's habits of
dependence and imitation were bringing her up too, and that, in short,
they would both be soon after her.  This would not do; she immediately
stopped, under pretence of having some alteration to make in the lacing
of her half-boot, and stooping down in complete occupation of the
footpath, begged them to have the goodness to walk on, and she would
follow in half a minute.  They did as they were desired; and by the
time she judged it reasonable to have done with her boot, she had the
comfort of farther delay in her power, being overtaken by a child from
the cottage, setting out, according to orders, with her pitcher, to
fetch broth from Hartfield.  To walk by the side of this child, and
talk to and question her, was the most natural thing in the world, or
would have been the most natural, had she been acting just then without
design; and by this means the others were still able to keep ahead,
without any obligation of waiting for her.  She gained on them,
however, involuntarily:  the child's pace was quick, and theirs rather
slow; and she was the more concerned at it, from their being evidently
in a conversation which interested them.  Mr. Elton was speaking with
animation, Harriet listening with a very pleased attention; and Emma,
having sent the child on, was beginning to think how she might draw
back a little more, when they both looked around, and she was obliged
to join them.

Mr. Elton was still talking, still engaged in some interesting detail;
and Emma experienced some disappointment when she found that he was
only giving his fair companion an account of the yesterday's party at
his friend Cole's, and that she was come in herself for the Stilton
cheese, the north Wiltshire, the butter, the cellery, the beet-root,
and all the dessert.

"This would soon have led to something better, of course," was her
consoling reflection; "any thing interests between those who love; and
any thing will serve as introduction to what is near the heart.  If I
could but have kept longer away!"

They now walked on together quietly, till within view of the vicarage
pales, when a sudden resolution, of at least getting Harriet into the
house, made her again find something very much amiss about her boot,
and fall behind to arrange it once more.  She then broke the lace off
short, and dexterously throwing it into a ditch, was presently obliged
to entreat them to stop, and acknowledged her inability to put herself
to rights so as to be able to walk home in tolerable comfort.

"Part of my lace is gone," said she, "and I do not know how I am to
contrive.  I really am a most troublesome companion to you both, but I
hope I am not often so ill-equipped. Mr. Elton, I must beg leave to
stop at your house, and ask your housekeeper for a bit of ribband or
string, or any thing just to keep my boot on."

Mr. Elton looked all happiness at this proposition; and nothing could
exceed his alertness and attention in conducting them into his house
and endeavouring to make every thing appear to advantage.  The room
they were taken into was the one he chiefly occupied, and looking
forwards; behind it was another with which it immediately communicated;
the door between them was open, and Emma passed into it with the
housekeeper to receive her assistance in the most comfortable manner.
She was obliged to leave the door ajar as she found it; but she fully
intended that Mr. Elton should close it.  It was not closed, however,
it still remained ajar; but by engaging the housekeeper in incessant
conversation, she hoped to make it practicable for him to chuse his own
subject in the adjoining room.  For ten minutes she could hear nothing
but herself.  It could be protracted no longer.  She was then obliged
to be finished, and make her appearance.

The lovers were standing together at one of the windows.  It had a most
favourable aspect; and, for half a minute, Emma felt the glory of
having schemed successfully.  But it would not do; he had not come to
the point.  He had been most agreeable, most delightful; he had told
Harriet that he had seen them go by, and had purposely followed them;
other little gallantries and allusions had been dropt, but nothing
serious.

"Cautious, very cautious," thought Emma; "he advances inch by inch, and
will hazard nothing till he believes himself secure."

Still, however, though every thing had not been accomplished by her
ingenious device, she could not but flatter herself that it had been
the occasion of much present enjoyment to both, and must be leading
them forward to the great event.



CHAPTER XI


Mr. Elton must now be left to himself.  It was no longer in Emma's
power to superintend his happiness or quicken his measures.  The coming
of her sister's family was so very near at hand, that first in
anticipation, and then in reality, it became henceforth her prime
object of interest; and during the ten days of their stay at Hartfield
it was not to be expected--she did not herself expect--that any thing
beyond occasional, fortuitous assistance could be afforded by her to
the lovers.  They might advance rapidly if they would, however; they
must advance somehow or other whether they would or no.  She hardly
wished to have more leisure for them.  There are people, who the more
you do for them, the less they will do for themselves.

Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley, from having been longer than usual absent
from Surry, were exciting of course rather more than the usual
interest.  Till this year, every long vacation since their marriage had
been divided between Hartfield and Donwell Abbey; but all the holidays
of this autumn had been given to sea-bathing for the children, and it
was therefore many months since they had been seen in a regular way by
their Surry connexions, or seen at all by Mr. Woodhouse, who could not
be induced to get so far as London, even for poor Isabella's sake; and
who consequently was now most nervously and apprehensively happy in
forestalling this too short visit.

He thought much of the evils of the journey for her, and not a little
of the fatigues of his own horses and coachman who were to bring some
of the party the last half of the way; but his alarms were needless;
the sixteen miles being happily accomplished, and Mr. and Mrs. John
Knightley, their five children, and a competent number of
nursery-maids, all reaching Hartfield in safety.  The bustle and joy of
such an arrival, the many to be talked to, welcomed, encouraged, and
variously dispersed and disposed of, produced a noise and confusion
which his nerves could not have borne under any other cause, nor have
endured much longer even for this; but the ways of Hartfield and the
feelings of her father were so respected by Mrs. John Knightley, that
in spite of maternal solicitude for the immediate enjoyment of her
little ones, and for their having instantly all the liberty and
attendance, all the eating and drinking, and sleeping and playing,
which they could possibly wish for, without the smallest delay, the
children were never allowed to be long a disturbance to him, either in
themselves or in any restless attendance on them.

Mrs. John Knightley was a pretty, elegant little woman, of gentle,
quiet manners, and a disposition remarkably amiable and affectionate;
wrapt up in her family; a devoted wife, a doating mother, and so
tenderly attached to her father and sister that, but for these higher
ties, a warmer love might have seemed impossible.  She could never see
a fault in any of them.  She was not a woman of strong understanding or
any quickness; and with this resemblance of her father, she inherited
also much of his constitution; was delicate in her own health,
over-careful of that of her children, had many fears and many nerves,
and was as fond of her own Mr. Wingfield in town as her father could be
of Mr. Perry.  They were alike too, in a general benevolence of temper,
and a strong habit of regard for every old acquaintance.

Mr. John Knightley was a tall, gentleman-like, and very clever man;
rising in his profession, domestic, and respectable in his private
character; but with reserved manners which prevented his being
generally pleasing; and capable of being sometimes out of humour.  He
was not an ill-tempered man, not so often unreasonably cross as to
deserve such a reproach; but his temper was not his great perfection;
and, indeed, with such a worshipping wife, it was hardly possible that
any natural defects in it should not be increased.  The extreme
sweetness of her temper must hurt his.  He had all the clearness and
quickness of mind which she wanted, and he could sometimes act an
ungracious, or say a severe thing.

He was not a great favourite with his fair sister-in-law. Nothing wrong
in him escaped her.  She was quick in feeling the little injuries to
Isabella, which Isabella never felt herself.  Perhaps she might have
passed over more had his manners been flattering to Isabella's sister,
but they were only those of a calmly kind brother and friend, without
praise and without blindness; but hardly any degree of personal
compliment could have made her regardless of that greatest fault of all
in her eyes which he sometimes fell into, the want of respectful
forbearance towards her father.  There he had not always the patience
that could have been wished.  Mr. Woodhouse's peculiarities and
fidgetiness were sometimes provoking him to a rational remonstrance or
sharp retort equally ill-bestowed.  It did not often happen; for Mr.
John Knightley had really a great regard for his father-in-law, and
generally a strong sense of what was due to him; but it was too often
for Emma's charity, especially as there was all the pain of
apprehension frequently to be endured, though the offence came not.
The beginning, however, of every visit displayed none but the properest
feelings, and this being of necessity so short might be hoped to pass
away in unsullied cordiality.  They had not been long seated and
composed when Mr. Woodhouse, with a melancholy shake of the head and a
sigh, called his daughter's attention to the sad change at Hartfield
since she had been there last.

"Ah, my dear," said he, "poor Miss Taylor--It is a grievous business."

"Oh yes, sir," cried she with ready sympathy, "how you must miss her!
And dear Emma, too!--What a dreadful loss to you both!--I have been so
grieved for you.--I could not imagine how you could possibly do without
her.--It is a sad change indeed.--But I hope she is pretty well, sir."

"Pretty well, my dear--I hope--pretty well.--I do not know but that the
place agrees with her tolerably."

Mr. John Knightley here asked Emma quietly whether there were any
doubts of the air of Randalls.

"Oh! no--none in the least.  I never saw Mrs. Weston better in my
life--never looking so well.  Papa is only speaking his own regret."

"Very much to the honour of both," was the handsome reply.

"And do you see her, sir, tolerably often?" asked Isabella in the
plaintive tone which just suited her father.

Mr. Woodhouse hesitated.--"Not near so often, my dear, as I could wish."

"Oh! papa, we have missed seeing them but one entire day since they
married.  Either in the morning or evening of every day, excepting one,
have we seen either Mr. Weston or Mrs. Weston, and generally both,
either at Randalls or here--and as you may suppose, Isabella, most
frequently here.  They are very, very kind in their visits.  Mr. Weston
is really as kind as herself.  Papa, if you speak in that melancholy
way, you will be giving Isabella a false idea of us all.  Every body
must be aware that Miss Taylor must be missed, but every body ought
also to be assured that Mr. and Mrs. Weston do really prevent our
missing her by any means to the extent we ourselves anticipated--which
is the exact truth."

"Just as it should be," said Mr. John Knightley, "and just as I hoped
it was from your letters.  Her wish of shewing you attention could not
be doubted, and his being a disengaged and social man makes it all
easy.  I have been always telling you, my love, that I had no idea of
the change being so very material to Hartfield as you apprehended; and
now you have Emma's account, I hope you will be satisfied."

"Why, to be sure," said Mr. Woodhouse--"yes, certainly--I cannot deny
that Mrs. Weston, poor Mrs. Weston, does come and see us pretty often--
but then--she is always obliged to go away again."

"It would be very hard upon Mr. Weston if she did not, papa.-- You
quite forget poor Mr. Weston."

"I think, indeed," said John Knightley pleasantly, "that Mr. Weston has
some little claim.  You and I, Emma, will venture to take the part of
the poor husband.  I, being a husband, and you not being a wife, the
claims of the man may very likely strike us with equal force.  As for
Isabella, she has been married long enough to see the convenience of
putting all the Mr. Westons aside as much as she can."

"Me, my love," cried his wife, hearing and understanding only in
part.-- "Are you talking about me?--I am sure nobody ought to be, or
can be, a greater advocate for matrimony than I am; and if it had not
been for the misery of her leaving Hartfield, I should never have
thought of Miss Taylor but as the most fortunate woman in the world;
and as to slighting Mr. Weston, that excellent Mr. Weston, I think
there is nothing he does not deserve.  I believe he is one of the very
best-tempered men that ever existed.  Excepting yourself and your
brother, I do not know his equal for temper.  I shall never forget his
flying Henry's kite for him that very windy day last Easter--and ever
since his particular kindness last September twelvemonth in writing
that note, at twelve o'clock at night, on purpose to assure me that
there was no scarlet fever at Cobham, I have been convinced there could
not be a more feeling heart nor a better man in existence.--If any body
can deserve him, it must be Miss Taylor."

"Where is the young man?" said John Knightley.  "Has he been here on
this occasion--or has he not?"

"He has not been here yet," replied Emma.  "There was a strong
expectation of his coming soon after the marriage, but it ended in
nothing; and I have not heard him mentioned lately."

"But you should tell them of the letter, my dear," said her father.
"He wrote a letter to poor Mrs. Weston, to congratulate her, and a very
proper, handsome letter it was.  She shewed it to me.  I thought it
very well done of him indeed.  Whether it was his own idea you know,
one cannot tell.  He is but young, and his uncle, perhaps--"

"My dear papa, he is three-and-twenty. You forget how time passes."

"Three-and-twenty!--is he indeed?--Well, I could not have thought it--
and he was but two years old when he lost his poor mother!  Well, time
does fly indeed!--and my memory is very bad.  However, it was an
exceeding good, pretty letter, and gave Mr. and Mrs. Weston a great
deal of pleasure.  I remember it was written from Weymouth, and dated
Sept. 28th--and began, 'My dear Madam,' but I forget how it went on;
and it was signed 'F. C. Weston Churchill.'-- I remember that
perfectly."

"How very pleasing and proper of him!" cried the good-hearted Mrs. John
Knightley.  "I have no doubt of his being a most amiable young man.
But how sad it is that he should not live at home with his father!
There is something so shocking in a child's being taken away from his
parents and natural home!  I never could comprehend how Mr. Weston
could part with him.  To give up one's child!  I really never could
think well of any body who proposed such a thing to any body else."

"Nobody ever did think well of the Churchills, I fancy," observed Mr.
John Knightley coolly.  "But you need not imagine Mr. Weston to have
felt what you would feel in giving up Henry or John.  Mr. Weston is
rather an easy, cheerful-tempered man, than a man of strong feelings;
he takes things as he finds them, and makes enjoyment of them somehow
or other, depending, I suspect, much more upon what is called society
for his comforts, that is, upon the power of eating and drinking, and
playing whist with his neighbours five times a week, than upon family
affection, or any thing that home affords."

Emma could not like what bordered on a reflection on Mr. Weston, and
had half a mind to take it up; but she struggled, and let it pass.  She
would keep the peace if possible; and there was something honourable
and valuable in the strong domestic habits, the all-sufficiency of home
to himself, whence resulted her brother's disposition to look down on
the common rate of social intercourse, and those to whom it was
important.--It had a high claim to forbearance.



CHAPTER XII


Mr. Knightley was to dine with them--rather against the inclination of
Mr. Woodhouse, who did not like that any one should share with him in
Isabella's first day.  Emma's sense of right however had decided it;
and besides the consideration of what was due to each brother, she had
particular pleasure, from the circumstance of the late disagreement
between Mr. Knightley and herself, in procuring him the proper
invitation.

She hoped they might now become friends again.  She thought it was time
to make up.  Making-up indeed would not do.  _She_ certainly had not
been in the wrong, and _he_ would never own that he had.  Concession
must be out of the question; but it was time to appear to forget that
they had ever quarrelled; and she hoped it might rather assist the
restoration of friendship, that when he came into the room she had one
of the children with her--the youngest, a nice little girl about eight
months old, who was now making her first visit to Hartfield, and very
happy to be danced about in her aunt's arms.  It did assist; for though
he began with grave looks and short questions, he was soon led on to
talk of them all in the usual way, and to take the child out of her
arms with all the unceremoniousness of perfect amity.  Emma felt they
were friends again; and the conviction giving her at first great
satisfaction, and then a little sauciness, she could not help saying,
as he was admiring the baby,

"What a comfort it is, that we think alike about our nephews and
nieces.  As to men and women, our opinions are sometimes very
different; but with regard to these children, I observe we never
disagree."

"If you were as much guided by nature in your estimate of men and
women, and as little under the power of fancy and whim in your dealings
with them, as you are where these children are concerned, we might
always think alike."

"To be sure--our discordancies must always arise from my being in the
wrong."

"Yes," said he, smiling--"and reason good.  I was sixteen years old
when you were born."

"A material difference then," she replied--"and no doubt you were much
my superior in judgment at that period of our lives; but does not the
lapse of one-and-twenty years bring our understandings a good deal
nearer?"

"Yes--a good deal _nearer_."

"But still, not near enough to give me a chance of being right, if we
think differently."

"I have still the advantage of you by sixteen years' experience, and by
not being a pretty young woman and a spoiled child.  Come, my dear
Emma, let us be friends, and say no more about it.  Tell your aunt,
little Emma, that she ought to set you a better example than to be
renewing old grievances, and that if she were not wrong before, she is
now."

"That's true," she cried--"very true.  Little Emma, grow up a better
woman than your aunt.  Be infinitely cleverer and not half so
conceited.  Now, Mr. Knightley, a word or two more, and I have done.
As far as good intentions went, we were _both_ right, and I must say
that no effects on my side of the argument have yet proved wrong.  I
only want to know that Mr. Martin is not very, very bitterly
disappointed."

"A man cannot be more so," was his short, full answer.

"Ah!--Indeed I am very sorry.--Come, shake hands with me."

This had just taken place and with great cordiality, when John
Knightley made his appearance, and "How d'ye do, George?" and "John,
how are you?" succeeded in the true English style, burying under a
calmness that seemed all but indifference, the real attachment which
would have led either of them, if requisite, to do every thing for the
good of the other.

The evening was quiet and conversable, as Mr. Woodhouse declined cards
entirely for the sake of comfortable talk with his dear Isabella, and
the little party made two natural divisions; on one side he and his
daughter; on the other the two Mr. Knightleys; their subjects totally
distinct, or very rarely mixing--and Emma only occasionally joining in
one or the other.

The brothers talked of their own concerns and pursuits, but principally
of those of the elder, whose temper was by much the most communicative,
and who was always the greater talker.  As a magistrate, he had
generally some point of law to consult John about, or, at least, some
curious anecdote to give; and as a farmer, as keeping in hand the
home-farm at Donwell, he had to tell what every field was to bear next
year, and to give all such local information as could not fail of being
interesting to a brother whose home it had equally been the longest
part of his life, and whose attachments were strong.  The plan of a
drain, the change of a fence, the felling of a tree, and the
destination of every acre for wheat, turnips, or spring corn, was
entered into with as much equality of interest by John, as his cooler
manners rendered possible; and if his willing brother ever left him any
thing to inquire about, his inquiries even approached a tone of
eagerness.

While they were thus comfortably occupied, Mr. Woodhouse was enjoying a
full flow of happy regrets and fearful affection with his daughter.

"My poor dear Isabella," said he, fondly taking her hand, and
interrupting, for a few moments, her busy labours for some one of her
five children--"How long it is, how terribly long since you were here!
And how tired you must be after your journey!  You must go to bed
early, my dear--and I recommend a little gruel to you before you
go.--You and I will have a nice basin of gruel together.  My dear Emma,
suppose we all have a little gruel."

Emma could not suppose any such thing, knowing as she did, that both
the Mr. Knightleys were as unpersuadable on that article as
herself;--and two basins only were ordered.  After a little more
discourse in praise of gruel, with some wondering at its not being
taken every evening by every body, he proceeded to say, with an air of
grave reflection,

"It was an awkward business, my dear, your spending the autumn at South
End instead of coming here.  I never had much opinion of the sea air."

"Mr. Wingfield most strenuously recommended it, sir--or we should not
have gone.  He recommended it for all the children, but particularly
for the weakness in little Bella's throat,--both sea air and bathing."

"Ah! my dear, but Perry had many doubts about the sea doing her any
good; and as to myself, I have been long perfectly convinced, though
perhaps I never told you so before, that the sea is very rarely of use
to any body.  I am sure it almost killed me once."

"Come, come," cried Emma, feeling this to be an unsafe subject, "I must
beg you not to talk of the sea.  It makes me envious and miserable;--I
who have never seen it!  South End is prohibited, if you please.  My
dear Isabella, I have not heard you make one inquiry about Mr. Perry
yet; and he never forgets you."

"Oh! good Mr. Perry--how is he, sir?"

"Why, pretty well; but not quite well.  Poor Perry is bilious, and he
has not time to take care of himself--he tells me he has not time to
take care of himself--which is very sad--but he is always wanted all
round the country.  I suppose there is not a man in such practice
anywhere.  But then there is not so clever a man any where."

"And Mrs. Perry and the children, how are they? do the children grow?
I have a great regard for Mr. Perry.  I hope he will be calling soon.
He will be so pleased to see my little ones."

"I hope he will be here to-morrow, for I have a question or two to ask
him about myself of some consequence.  And, my dear, whenever he comes,
you had better let him look at little Bella's throat."

"Oh! my dear sir, her throat is so much better that I have hardly any
uneasiness about it.  Either bathing has been of the greatest service
to her, or else it is to be attributed to an excellent embrocation of
Mr. Wingfield's, which we have been applying at times ever since
August."

"It is not very likely, my dear, that bathing should have been of use
to her--and if I had known you were wanting an embrocation, I would
have spoken to--

"You seem to me to have forgotten Mrs. and Miss Bates," said Emma, "I
have not heard one inquiry after them."

"Oh! the good Bateses--I am quite ashamed of myself--but you mention
them in most of your letters.  I hope they are quite well.  Good old
Mrs. Bates--I will call upon her to-morrow, and take my children.--They
are always so pleased to see my children.-- And that excellent Miss
Bates!--such thorough worthy people!-- How are they, sir?"

"Why, pretty well, my dear, upon the whole.  But poor Mrs. Bates had a
bad cold about a month ago."

"How sorry I am!  But colds were never so prevalent as they have been
this autumn.  Mr. Wingfield told me that he has never known them more
general or heavy--except when it has been quite an influenza."

"That has been a good deal the case, my dear; but not to the degree you
mention.  Perry says that colds have been very general, but not so
heavy as he has very often known them in November.  Perry does not call
it altogether a sickly season."

"No, I do not know that Mr. Wingfield considers it _very_ sickly
except--

"Ah! my poor dear child, the truth is, that in London it is always a
sickly season.  Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.  It is a
dreadful thing to have you forced to live there! so far off!--and the
air so bad!"

"No, indeed--_we_ are not at all in a bad air.  Our part of London is
very superior to most others!--You must not confound us with London in
general, my dear sir.  The neighbourhood of Brunswick Square is very
different from almost all the rest.  We are so very airy!  I should be
unwilling, I own, to live in any other part of the town;--there is
hardly any other that I could be satisfied to have my children in:  but
_we_ are so remarkably airy!--Mr. Wingfield thinks the vicinity of
Brunswick Square decidedly the most favourable as to air."

"Ah! my dear, it is not like Hartfield.  You make the best of it--but
after you have been a week at Hartfield, you are all of you different
creatures; you do not look like the same.  Now I cannot say, that I
think you are any of you looking well at present."

"I am sorry to hear you say so, sir; but I assure you, excepting those
little nervous head-aches and palpitations which I am never entirely
free from anywhere, I am quite well myself; and if the children were
rather pale before they went to bed, it was only because they were a
little more tired than usual, from their journey and the happiness of
coming.  I hope you will think better of their looks to-morrow; for I
assure you Mr. Wingfield told me, that he did not believe he had ever
sent us off altogether, in such good case.  I trust, at least, that you
do not think Mr. Knightley looking ill," turning her eyes with
affectionate anxiety towards her husband.

"Middling, my dear; I cannot compliment you.  I think Mr. John
Knightley very far from looking well."

"What is the matter, sir?--Did you speak to me?" cried Mr. John
Knightley, hearing his own name.

"I am sorry to find, my love, that my father does not think you looking
well--but I hope it is only from being a little fatigued.  I could have
wished, however, as you know, that you had seen Mr. Wingfield before
you left home."

"My dear Isabella,"--exclaimed he hastily--"pray do not concern
yourself about my looks.  Be satisfied with doctoring and coddling
yourself and the children, and let me look as I chuse."

"I did not thoroughly understand what you were telling your brother,"
cried Emma, "about your friend Mr. Graham's intending to have a bailiff
from Scotland, to look after his new estate.  What will it answer?
Will not the old prejudice be too strong?"

And she talked in this way so long and successfully that, when forced
to give her attention again to her father and sister, she had nothing
worse to hear than Isabella's kind inquiry after Jane Fairfax; and Jane
Fairfax, though no great favourite with her in general, she was at that
moment very happy to assist in praising.

"That sweet, amiable Jane Fairfax!" said Mrs. John Knightley.-- "It is
so long since I have seen her, except now and then for a moment
accidentally in town!  What happiness it must be to her good old
grandmother and excellent aunt, when she comes to visit them!  I always
regret excessively on dear Emma's account that she cannot be more at
Highbury; but now their daughter is married, I suppose Colonel and Mrs.
Campbell will not be able to part with her at all.  She would be such a
delightful companion for Emma."

Mr. Woodhouse agreed to it all, but added,

"Our little friend Harriet Smith, however, is just such another pretty
kind of young person.  You will like Harriet.  Emma could not have a
better companion than Harriet."

"I am most happy to hear it--but only Jane Fairfax one knows to be so
very accomplished and superior!--and exactly Emma's age."

This topic was discussed very happily, and others succeeded of similar
moment, and passed away with similar harmony; but the evening did not
close without a little return of agitation.  The gruel came and
supplied a great deal to be said--much praise and many comments--
undoubting decision of its wholesomeness for every constitution, and
pretty severe Philippics upon the many houses where it was never met
with tolerable;--but, unfortunately, among the failures which the
daughter had to instance, the most recent, and therefore most
prominent, was in her own cook at South End, a young woman hired for
the time, who never had been able to understand what she meant by a
basin of nice smooth gruel, thin, but not too thin.  Often as she had
wished for and ordered it, she had never been able to get any thing
tolerable.  Here was a dangerous opening.

"Ah!" said Mr. Woodhouse, shaking his head and fixing his eyes on her
with tender concern.--The ejaculation in Emma's ear expressed, "Ah!
there is no end of the sad consequences of your going to South End.  It
does not bear talking of."  And for a little while she hoped he would
not talk of it, and that a silent rumination might suffice to restore
him to the relish of his own smooth gruel.  After an interval of some
minutes, however, he began with,

"I shall always be very sorry that you went to the sea this autumn,
instead of coming here."

"But why should you be sorry, sir?--I assure you, it did the children a
great deal of good."

"And, moreover, if you must go to the sea, it had better not have been
to South End.  South End is an unhealthy place.  Perry was surprized to
hear you had fixed upon South End."

"I know there is such an idea with many people, but indeed it is quite
a mistake, sir.--We all had our health perfectly well there, never
found the least inconvenience from the mud; and Mr. Wingfield says it
is entirely a mistake to suppose the place unhealthy; and I am sure he
may be depended on, for he thoroughly understands the nature of the
air, and his own brother and family have been there repeatedly."

"You should have gone to Cromer, my dear, if you went anywhere.-- Perry
was a week at Cromer once, and he holds it to be the best of all the
sea-bathing places.  A fine open sea, he says, and very pure air.  And,
by what I understand, you might have had lodgings there quite away from
the sea--a quarter of a mile off--very comfortable.  You should have
consulted Perry."

"But, my dear sir, the difference of the journey;--only consider how
great it would have been.--An hundred miles, perhaps, instead of forty."

"Ah! my dear, as Perry says, where health is at stake, nothing else
should be considered; and if one is to travel, there is not much to
chuse between forty miles and an hundred.--Better not move at all,
better stay in London altogether than travel forty miles to get into a
worse air.  This is just what Perry said.  It seemed to him a very
ill-judged measure."

Emma's attempts to stop her father had been vain; and when he had
reached such a point as this, she could not wonder at her
brother-in-law's breaking out.

"Mr. Perry," said he, in a voice of very strong displeasure, "would do
as well to keep his opinion till it is asked for.  Why does he make it
any business of his, to wonder at what I do?--at my taking my family
to one part of the coast or another?--I may be allowed, I hope, the use
of my judgment as well as Mr. Perry.-- I want his directions no more
than his drugs."  He paused--and growing cooler in a moment, added,
with only sarcastic dryness, "If Mr. Perry can tell me how to convey a
wife and five children a distance of an hundred and thirty miles with
no greater expense or inconvenience than a distance of forty, I should
be as willing to prefer Cromer to South End as he could himself."

"True, true," cried Mr. Knightley, with most ready interposition--
"very true.  That's a consideration indeed.--But John, as to what I was
telling you of my idea of moving the path to Langham, of turning it
more to the right that it may not cut through the home meadows, I
cannot conceive any difficulty.  I should not attempt it, if it were to
be the means of inconvenience to the Highbury people, but if you call
to mind exactly the present line of the path. . . .  The only way of
proving it, however, will be to turn to our maps.  I shall see you at
the Abbey to-morrow morning I hope, and then we will look them over,
and you shall give me your opinion."

Mr. Woodhouse was rather agitated by such harsh reflections on his
friend Perry, to whom he had, in fact, though unconsciously, been
attributing many of his own feelings and expressions;--but the
soothing attentions of his daughters gradually removed the present
evil, and the immediate alertness of one brother, and better
recollections of the other, prevented any renewal of it.



CHAPTER XIII


There could hardly be a happier creature in the world than Mrs. John
Knightley, in this short visit to Hartfield, going about every morning
among her old acquaintance with her five children, and talking over
what she had done every evening with her father and sister.  She had
nothing to wish otherwise, but that the days did not pass so swiftly.
It was a delightful visit;--perfect, in being much too short.

In general their evenings were less engaged with friends than their
mornings; but one complete dinner engagement, and out of the house too,
there was no avoiding, though at Christmas.  Mr. Weston would take no
denial; they must all dine at Randalls one day;--even Mr. Woodhouse was
persuaded to think it a possible thing in preference to a division of
the party.

How they were all to be conveyed, he would have made a difficulty if he
could, but as his son and daughter's carriage and horses were actually
at Hartfield, he was not able to make more than a simple question on
that head; it hardly amounted to a doubt; nor did it occupy Emma long
to convince him that they might in one of the carriages find room for
Harriet also.

Harriet, Mr. Elton, and Mr. Knightley, their own especial set, were the
only persons invited to meet them;--the hours were to be early, as well
as the numbers few; Mr. Woodhouse's habits and inclination being
consulted in every thing.

The evening before this great event (for it was a very great event that
Mr. Woodhouse should dine out, on the 24th of December) had been spent
by Harriet at Hartfield, and she had gone home so much indisposed with
a cold, that, but for her own earnest wish of being nursed by Mrs.
Goddard, Emma could not have allowed her to leave the house.  Emma
called on her the next day, and found her doom already signed with
regard to Randalls.  She was very feverish and had a bad sore throat:
Mrs. Goddard was full of care and affection, Mr. Perry was talked of,
and Harriet herself was too ill and low to resist the authority which
excluded her from this delightful engagement, though she could not
speak of her loss without many tears.

Emma sat with her as long as she could, to attend her in Mrs. Goddard's
unavoidable absences, and raise her spirits by representing how much
Mr. Elton's would be depressed when he knew her state; and left her at
last tolerably comfortable, in the sweet dependence of his having a
most comfortless visit, and of their all missing her very much.  She
had not advanced many yards from Mrs. Goddard's door, when she was met
by Mr. Elton himself, evidently coming towards it, and as they walked
on slowly together in conversation about the invalid--of whom he, on
the rumour of considerable illness, had been going to inquire, that he
might carry some report of her to Hartfield--they were overtaken by
Mr. John Knightley returning from the daily visit to Donwell, with his
two eldest boys, whose healthy, glowing faces shewed all the benefit of
a country run, and seemed to ensure a quick despatch of the roast
mutton and rice pudding they were hastening home for.  They joined
company and proceeded together.  Emma was just describing the nature of
her friend's complaint;--"a throat very much inflamed, with a great
deal of heat about her, a quick, low pulse, &c.  and she was sorry to
find from Mrs. Goddard that Harriet was liable to very bad
sore-throats, and had often alarmed her with them."  Mr. Elton looked
all alarm on the occasion, as he exclaimed,

"A sore-throat!--I hope not infectious.  I hope not of a putrid
infectious sort.  Has Perry seen her?  Indeed you should take care of
yourself as well as of your friend.  Let me entreat you to run no
risks.  Why does not Perry see her?"

Emma, who was not really at all frightened herself, tranquillised this
excess of apprehension by assurances of Mrs. Goddard's experience and
care; but as there must still remain a degree of uneasiness which she
could not wish to reason away, which she would rather feed and assist
than not, she added soon afterwards--as if quite another subject,

"It is so cold, so very cold--and looks and feels so very much like
snow, that if it were to any other place or with any other party, I
should really try not to go out to-day--and dissuade my father from
venturing; but as he has made up his mind, and does not seem to feel
the cold himself, I do not like to interfere, as I know it would be so
great a disappointment to Mr. and Mrs. Weston.  But, upon my word, Mr.
Elton, in your case, I should certainly excuse myself.  You appear to
me a little hoarse already, and when you consider what demand of voice
and what fatigues to-morrow will bring, I think it would be no more
than common prudence to stay at home and take care of yourself
to-night."

Mr. Elton looked as if he did not very well know what answer to make;
which was exactly the case; for though very much gratified by the kind
care of such a fair lady, and not liking to resist any advice of her's,
he had not really the least inclination to give up the visit;--but
Emma, too eager and busy in her own previous conceptions and views to
hear him impartially, or see him with clear vision, was very well
satisfied with his muttering acknowledgment of its being "very cold,
certainly very cold," and walked on, rejoicing in having extricated him
from Randalls, and secured him the power of sending to inquire after
Harriet every hour of the evening.

"You do quite right," said she;--"we will make your apologies to Mr.
and Mrs. Weston."

But hardly had she so spoken, when she found her brother was civilly
offering a seat in his carriage, if the weather were Mr. Elton's only
objection, and Mr. Elton actually accepting the offer with much prompt
satisfaction.  It was a done thing; Mr. Elton was to go, and never had
his broad handsome face expressed more pleasure than at this moment;
never had his smile been stronger, nor his eyes more exulting than when
he next looked at her.

"Well," said she to herself, "this is most strange!--After I had got
him off so well, to chuse to go into company, and leave Harriet ill
behind!--Most strange indeed!--But there is, I believe, in many men,
especially single men, such an inclination--such a passion for dining
out--a dinner engagement is so high in the class of their pleasures,
their employments, their dignities, almost their duties, that any thing
gives way to it--and this must be the case with Mr. Elton; a most
valuable, amiable, pleasing young man undoubtedly, and very much in
love with Harriet; but still, he cannot refuse an invitation, he must
dine out wherever he is asked.  What a strange thing love is! he can
see ready wit in Harriet, but will not dine alone for her."

Soon afterwards Mr. Elton quitted them, and she could not but do him
the justice of feeling that there was a great deal of sentiment in his
manner of naming Harriet at parting; in the tone of his voice while
assuring her that he should call at Mrs. Goddard's for news of her fair
friend, the last thing before he prepared for the happiness of meeting
her again, when he hoped to be able to give a better report; and he
sighed and smiled himself off in a way that left the balance of
approbation much in his favour.

After a few minutes of entire silence between them, John Knightley
began with--

"I never in my life saw a man more intent on being agreeable than Mr.
Elton.  It is downright labour to him where ladies are concerned.  With
men he can be rational and unaffected, but when he has ladies to
please, every feature works."

"Mr. Elton's manners are not perfect," replied Emma; "but where there
is a wish to please, one ought to overlook, and one does overlook a
great deal.  Where a man does his best with only moderate powers, he
will have the advantage over negligent superiority.  There is such
perfect good-temper and good-will in Mr. Elton as one cannot but value."

"Yes," said Mr. John Knightley presently, with some slyness, "he seems
to have a great deal of good-will towards you."

"Me!" she replied with a smile of astonishment, "are you imagining me
to be Mr. Elton's object?"

"Such an imagination has crossed me, I own, Emma; and if it never
occurred to you before, you may as well take it into consideration now."

"Mr. Elton in love with me!--What an idea!"

"I do not say it is so; but you will do well to consider whether it is
so or not, and to regulate your behaviour accordingly.  I think your
manners to him encouraging.  I speak as a friend, Emma.  You had better
look about you, and ascertain what you do, and what you mean to do."

"I thank you; but I assure you you are quite mistaken.  Mr. Elton and I
are very good friends, and nothing more;" and she walked on, amusing
herself in the consideration of the blunders which often arise from a
partial knowledge of circumstances, of the mistakes which people of
high pretensions to judgment are for ever falling into; and not very
well pleased with her brother for imagining her blind and ignorant, and
in want of counsel.  He said no more.

Mr. Woodhouse had so completely made up his mind to the visit, that in
spite of the increasing coldness, he seemed to have no idea of
shrinking from it, and set forward at last most punctually with his
eldest daughter in his own carriage, with less apparent consciousness
of the weather than either of the others; too full of the wonder of his
own going, and the pleasure it was to afford at Randalls to see that it
was cold, and too well wrapt up to feel it.  The cold, however, was
severe; and by the time the second carriage was in motion, a few flakes
of snow were finding their way down, and the sky had the appearance of
being so overcharged as to want only a milder air to produce a very
white world in a very short time.

Emma soon saw that her companion was not in the happiest humour.  The
preparing and the going abroad in such weather, with the sacrifice of
his children after dinner, were evils, were disagreeables at least,
which Mr. John Knightley did not by any means like; he anticipated
nothing in the visit that could be at all worth the purchase; and the
whole of their drive to the vicarage was spent by him in expressing his
discontent.

"A man," said he, "must have a very good opinion of himself when he
asks people to leave their own fireside, and encounter such a day as
this, for the sake of coming to see him.  He must think himself a most
agreeable fellow; I could not do such a thing.  It is the greatest
absurdity--Actually snowing at this moment!-- The folly of not allowing
people to be comfortable at home--and the folly of people's not staying
comfortably at home when they can!  If we were obliged to go out such
an evening as this, by any call of duty or business, what a hardship we
should deem it;--and here are we, probably with rather thinner clothing
than usual, setting forward voluntarily, without excuse, in defiance of
the voice of nature, which tells man, in every thing given to his view
or his feelings, to stay at home himself, and keep all under shelter
that he can;--here are we setting forward to spend five dull hours in
another man's house, with nothing to say or to hear that was not said
and heard yesterday, and may not be said and heard again to-morrow.
Going in dismal weather, to return probably in worse;--four horses and
four servants taken out for nothing but to convey five idle, shivering
creatures into colder rooms and worse company than they might have had
at home."

Emma did not find herself equal to give the pleased assent, which no
doubt he was in the habit of receiving, to emulate the "Very true, my
love," which must have been usually administered by his travelling
companion; but she had resolution enough to refrain from making any
answer at all.  She could not be complying, she dreaded being
quarrelsome; her heroism reached only to silence.  She allowed him to
talk, and arranged the glasses, and wrapped herself up, without opening
her lips.

They arrived, the carriage turned, the step was let down, and Mr.
Elton, spruce, black, and smiling, was with them instantly.  Emma
thought with pleasure of some change of subject.  Mr. Elton was all
obligation and cheerfulness; he was so very cheerful in his civilities
indeed, that she began to think he must have received a different
account of Harriet from what had reached her.  She had sent while
dressing, and the answer had been, "Much the same--not better."

"_My_ report from Mrs. Goddard's," said she presently, "was not so
pleasant as I had hoped--'Not better' was _my_ answer."

His face lengthened immediately; and his voice was the voice of
sentiment as he answered.

"Oh! no--I am grieved to find--I was on the point of telling you that
when I called at Mrs. Goddard's door, which I did the very last thing
before I returned to dress, I was told that Miss Smith was not better,
by no means better, rather worse.  Very much grieved and concerned-- I
had flattered myself that she must be better after such a cordial as I
knew had been given her in the morning."

Emma smiled and answered--"My visit was of use to the nervous part of
her complaint, I hope; but not even I can charm away a sore throat; it
is a most severe cold indeed.  Mr. Perry has been with her, as you
probably heard."

"Yes--I imagined--that is--I did not--"

"He has been used to her in these complaints, and I hope to-morrow
morning will bring us both a more comfortable report.  But it is
impossible not to feel uneasiness.  Such a sad loss to our party
to-day!"

"Dreadful!--Exactly so, indeed.--She will be missed every moment."

This was very proper; the sigh which accompanied it was really
estimable; but it should have lasted longer.  Emma was rather in dismay
when only half a minute afterwards he began to speak of other things,
and in a voice of the greatest alacrity and enjoyment.

"What an excellent device," said he, "the use of a sheepskin for
carriages.  How very comfortable they make it;--impossible to feel cold
with such precautions.  The contrivances of modern days indeed have
rendered a gentleman's carriage perfectly complete.  One is so fenced
and guarded from the weather, that not a breath of air can find its way
unpermitted.  Weather becomes absolutely of no consequence.  It is a
very cold afternoon--but in this carriage we know nothing of the
matter.--Ha! snows a little I see."

"Yes," said John Knightley, "and I think we shall have a good deal of
it."

"Christmas weather," observed Mr. Elton.  "Quite seasonable; and
extremely fortunate we may think ourselves that it did not begin
yesterday, and prevent this day's party, which it might very possibly
have done, for Mr. Woodhouse would hardly have ventured had there been
much snow on the ground; but now it is of no consequence.  This is
quite the season indeed for friendly meetings.  At Christmas every body
invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the
worst weather.  I was snowed up at a friend's house once for a week.
Nothing could be pleasanter.  I went for only one night, and could not
get away till that very day se'nnight."

Mr. John Knightley looked as if he did not comprehend the pleasure, but
said only, coolly,

"I cannot wish to be snowed up a week at Randalls."

At another time Emma might have been amused, but she was too much
astonished now at Mr. Elton's spirits for other feelings.  Harriet
seemed quite forgotten in the expectation of a pleasant party.

"We are sure of excellent fires," continued he, "and every thing in the
greatest comfort.  Charming people, Mr. and Mrs. Weston;--Mrs. Weston
indeed is much beyond praise, and he is exactly what one values, so
hospitable, and so fond of society;--it will be a small party, but
where small parties are select, they are perhaps the most agreeable of
any.  Mr. Weston's dining-room does not accommodate more than ten
comfortably; and for my part, I would rather, under such circumstances,
fall short by two than exceed by two.  I think you will agree with me,
(turning with a soft air to Emma,) I think I shall certainly have your
approbation, though Mr. Knightley perhaps, from being used to the large
parties of London, may not quite enter into our feelings."

"I know nothing of the large parties of London, sir--I never dine with
any body."

"Indeed! (in a tone of wonder and pity,) I had no idea that the law had
been so great a slavery.  Well, sir, the time must come when you will
be paid for all this, when you will have little labour and great
enjoyment."

"My first enjoyment," replied John Knightley, as they passed through
the sweep-gate, "will be to find myself safe at Hartfield again."



CHAPTER XIV


Some change of countenance was necessary for each gentleman as they
walked into Mrs. Weston's drawing-room;--Mr. Elton must compose his
joyous looks, and Mr. John Knightley disperse his ill-humour. Mr. Elton
must smile less, and Mr. John Knightley more, to fit them for the
place.--Emma only might be as nature prompted, and shew herself just as
happy as she was.  To her it was real enjoyment to be with the Westons.
Mr. Weston was a great favourite, and there was not a creature in the
world to whom she spoke with such unreserve, as to his wife; not any
one, to whom she related with such conviction of being listened to and
understood, of being always interesting and always intelligible, the
little affairs, arrangements, perplexities, and pleasures of her father
and herself.  She could tell nothing of Hartfield, in which Mrs. Weston
had not a lively concern; and half an hour's uninterrupted
communication of all those little matters on which the daily happiness
of private life depends, was one of the first gratifications of each.

This was a pleasure which perhaps the whole day's visit might not
afford, which certainly did not belong to the present half-hour; but
the very sight of Mrs. Weston, her smile, her touch, her voice was
grateful to Emma, and she determined to think as little as possible of
Mr. Elton's oddities, or of any thing else unpleasant, and enjoy all
that was enjoyable to the utmost.

The misfortune of Harriet's cold had been pretty well gone through
before her arrival.  Mr. Woodhouse had been safely seated long enough
to give the history of it, besides all the history of his own and
Isabella's coming, and of Emma's being to follow, and had indeed just
got to the end of his satisfaction that James should come and see his
daughter, when the others appeared, and Mrs. Weston, who had been
almost wholly engrossed by her attentions to him, was able to turn away
and welcome her dear Emma.

Emma's project of forgetting Mr. Elton for a while made her rather
sorry to find, when they had all taken their places, that he was close
to her.  The difficulty was great of driving his strange insensibility
towards Harriet, from her mind, while he not only sat at her elbow, but
was continually obtruding his happy countenance on her notice, and
solicitously addressing her upon every occasion.  Instead of forgetting
him, his behaviour was such that she could not avoid the internal
suggestion of "Can it really be as my brother imagined? can it be
possible for this man to be beginning to transfer his affections from
Harriet to me?--Absurd and insufferable!"-- Yet he would be so anxious
for her being perfectly warm, would be so interested about her father,
and so delighted with Mrs. Weston; and at last would begin admiring her
drawings with so much zeal and so little knowledge as seemed terribly
like a would-be lover, and made it some effort with her to preserve her
good manners.  For her own sake she could not be rude; and for
Harriet's, in the hope that all would yet turn out right, she was even
positively civil; but it was an effort; especially as something was
going on amongst the others, in the most overpowering period of Mr.
Elton's nonsense, which she particularly wished to listen to.  She
heard enough to know that Mr. Weston was giving some information about
his son; she heard the words "my son," and "Frank," and "my son,"
repeated several times over; and, from a few other half-syllables very
much suspected that he was announcing an early visit from his son; but
before she could quiet Mr. Elton, the subject was so completely past
that any reviving question from her would have been awkward.

Now, it so happened that in spite of Emma's resolution of never
marrying, there was something in the name, in the idea of Mr. Frank
Churchill, which always interested her.  She had frequently
thought--especially since his father's marriage with Miss Taylor--that
if she _were_ to marry, he was the very person to suit her in age,
character and condition.  He seemed by this connexion between the
families, quite to belong to her.  She could not but suppose it to be a
match that every body who knew them must think of.  That Mr. and Mrs.
Weston did think of it, she was very strongly persuaded; and though not
meaning to be induced by him, or by any body else, to give up a
situation which she believed more replete with good than any she could
change it for, she had a great curiosity to see him, a decided
intention of finding him pleasant, of being liked by him to a certain
degree, and a sort of pleasure in the idea of their being coupled in
their friends' imaginations.

With such sensations, Mr. Elton's civilities were dreadfully ill-timed;
but she had the comfort of appearing very polite, while feeling very
cross--and of thinking that the rest of the visit could not possibly
pass without bringing forward the same information again, or the
substance of it, from the open-hearted Mr. Weston.--So it proved;--for
when happily released from Mr. Elton, and seated by Mr. Weston, at
dinner, he made use of the very first interval in the cares of
hospitality, the very first leisure from the saddle of mutton, to say
to her,

"We want only two more to be just the right number.  I should like to
see two more here,--your pretty little friend, Miss Smith, and my
son--and then I should say we were quite complete.  I believe you did
not hear me telling the others in the drawing-room that we are
expecting Frank.  I had a letter from him this morning, and he will be
with us within a fortnight."

Emma spoke with a very proper degree of pleasure; and fully assented to
his proposition of Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss Smith making their
party quite complete.

"He has been wanting to come to us," continued Mr. Weston, "ever since
September:  every letter has been full of it; but he cannot command his
own time.  He has those to please who must be pleased, and who (between
ourselves) are sometimes to be pleased only by a good many sacrifices.
But now I have no doubt of seeing him here about the second week in
January."

"What a very great pleasure it will be to you! and Mrs. Weston is so
anxious to be acquainted with him, that she must be almost as happy as
yourself."

"Yes, she would be, but that she thinks there will be another put-off.
She does not depend upon his coming so much as I do: but she does not
know the parties so well as I do.  The case, you see, is--(but this is
quite between ourselves:  I did not mention a syllable of it in the
other room.  There are secrets in all families, you know)--The case is,
that a party of friends are invited to pay a visit at Enscombe in
January; and that Frank's coming depends upon their being put off.  If
they are not put off, he cannot stir.  But I know they will, because it
is a family that a certain lady, of some consequence, at Enscombe, has
a particular dislike to: and though it is thought necessary to invite
them once in two or three years, they always are put off when it comes
to the point.  I have not the smallest doubt of the issue.  I am as
confident of seeing Frank here before the middle of January, as I am of
being here myself:  but your good friend there (nodding towards the
upper end of the table) has so few vagaries herself, and has been so
little used to them at Hartfield, that she cannot calculate on their
effects, as I have been long in the practice of doing."

"I am sorry there should be any thing like doubt in the case," replied
Emma; "but am disposed to side with you, Mr. Weston.  If you think he
will come, I shall think so too; for you know Enscombe."

"Yes--I have some right to that knowledge; though I have never been at
the place in my life.--She is an odd woman!--But I never allow myself
to speak ill of her, on Frank's account; for I do believe her to be
very fond of him.  I used to think she was not capable of being fond of
any body, except herself:  but she has always been kind to him (in her
way--allowing for little whims and caprices, and expecting every thing
to be as she likes). And it is no small credit, in my opinion, to him,
that he should excite such an affection; for, though I would not say it
to any body else, she has no more heart than a stone to people in
general; and the devil of a temper."

Emma liked the subject so well, that she began upon it, to Mrs. Weston,
very soon after their moving into the drawing-room: wishing her
joy--yet observing, that she knew the first meeting must be rather
alarming.-- Mrs. Weston agreed to it; but added, that she should be
very glad to be secure of undergoing the anxiety of a first meeting at
the time talked of:  "for I cannot depend upon his coming.  I cannot be
so sanguine as Mr. Weston.  I am very much afraid that it will all end
in nothing.  Mr. Weston, I dare say, has been telling you exactly how
the matter stands?"

"Yes--it seems to depend upon nothing but the ill-humour of Mrs.
Churchill, which I imagine to be the most certain thing in the world."

"My Emma!" replied Mrs. Weston, smiling, "what is the certainty of
caprice?"  Then turning to Isabella, who had not been attending
before--"You must know, my dear Mrs. Knightley, that we are by no means
so sure of seeing Mr. Frank Churchill, in my opinion, as his father
thinks.  It depends entirely upon his aunt's spirits and pleasure; in
short, upon her temper.  To you--to my two daughters--I may venture on
the truth.  Mrs. Churchill rules at Enscombe, and is a very
odd-tempered woman; and his coming now, depends upon her being willing
to spare him."

"Oh, Mrs. Churchill; every body knows Mrs. Churchill," replied
Isabella:  "and I am sure I never think of that poor young man without
the greatest compassion.  To be constantly living with an ill-tempered
person, must be dreadful.  It is what we happily have never known any
thing of; but it must be a life of misery.  What a blessing, that she
never had any children!  Poor little creatures, how unhappy she would
have made them!"

Emma wished she had been alone with Mrs. Weston.  She should then have
heard more:  Mrs. Weston would speak to her, with a degree of unreserve
which she would not hazard with Isabella; and, she really believed,
would scarcely try to conceal any thing relative to the Churchills from
her, excepting those views on the young man, of which her own
imagination had already given her such instinctive knowledge.  But at
present there was nothing more to be said.  Mr. Woodhouse very soon
followed them into the drawing-room. To be sitting long after dinner,
was a confinement that he could not endure.  Neither wine nor
conversation was any thing to him; and gladly did he move to those with
whom he was always comfortable.

While he talked to Isabella, however, Emma found an opportunity of
saying,

"And so you do not consider this visit from your son as by any means
certain.  I am sorry for it.  The introduction must be unpleasant,
whenever it takes place; and the sooner it could be over, the better."

"Yes; and every delay makes one more apprehensive of other delays.
Even if this family, the Braithwaites, are put off, I am still afraid
that some excuse may be found for disappointing us.  I cannot bear to
imagine any reluctance on his side; but I am sure there is a great wish
on the Churchills' to keep him to themselves.  There is jealousy.  They
are jealous even of his regard for his father.  In short, I can feel no
dependence on his coming, and I wish Mr. Weston were less sanguine."

"He ought to come," said Emma.  "If he could stay only a couple of
days, he ought to come; and one can hardly conceive a young man's not
having it in his power to do as much as that.  A young _woman_, if she
fall into bad hands, may be teazed, and kept at a distance from those
she wants to be with; but one cannot comprehend a young _man_'s being
under such restraint, as not to be able to spend a week with his
father, if he likes it."

"One ought to be at Enscombe, and know the ways of the family, before
one decides upon what he can do," replied Mrs. Weston.  "One ought to
use the same caution, perhaps, in judging of the conduct of any one
individual of any one family; but Enscombe, I believe, certainly must
not be judged by general rules: _she_ is so very unreasonable; and
every thing gives way to her."

"But she is so fond of the nephew:  he is so very great a favourite.
Now, according to my idea of Mrs. Churchill, it would be most natural,
that while she makes no sacrifice for the comfort of the husband, to
whom she owes every thing, while she exercises incessant caprice
towards _him_, she should frequently be governed by the nephew, to whom
she owes nothing at all."

"My dearest Emma, do not pretend, with your sweet temper, to understand
a bad one, or to lay down rules for it:  you must let it go its own
way.  I have no doubt of his having, at times, considerable influence;
but it may be perfectly impossible for him to know beforehand _when_ it
will be."

Emma listened, and then coolly said, "I shall not be satisfied, unless
he comes."

"He may have a great deal of influence on some points," continued Mrs.
Weston, "and on others, very little:  and among those, on which she is
beyond his reach, it is but too likely, may be this very circumstance
of his coming away from them to visit us."



CHAPTER XV


Mr. Woodhouse was soon ready for his tea; and when he had drank his tea
he was quite ready to go home; and it was as much as his three
companions could do, to entertain away his notice of the lateness of
the hour, before the other gentlemen appeared.  Mr. Weston was chatty
and convivial, and no friend to early separations of any sort; but at
last the drawing-room party did receive an augmentation.  Mr. Elton, in
very good spirits, was one of the first to walk in.  Mrs. Weston and
Emma were sitting together on a sofa.  He joined them immediately, and,
with scarcely an invitation, seated himself between them.

Emma, in good spirits too, from the amusement afforded her mind by the
expectation of Mr. Frank Churchill, was willing to forget his late
improprieties, and be as well satisfied with him as before, and on his
making Harriet his very first subject, was ready to listen with most
friendly smiles.

He professed himself extremely anxious about her fair friend--her
fair, lovely, amiable friend.  "Did she know?--had she heard any thing
about her, since their being at Randalls?--he felt much anxiety--he
must confess that the nature of her complaint alarmed him
considerably."  And in this style he talked on for some time very
properly, not much attending to any answer, but altogether sufficiently
awake to the terror of a bad sore throat; and Emma was quite in charity
with him.

But at last there seemed a perverse turn; it seemed all at once as if
he were more afraid of its being a bad sore throat on her account, than
on Harriet's--more anxious that she should escape the infection, than
that there should be no infection in the complaint.  He began with
great earnestness to entreat her to refrain from visiting the
sick-chamber again, for the present--to entreat her to _promise_ _him_
not to venture into such hazard till he had seen Mr. Perry and learnt
his opinion; and though she tried to laugh it off and bring the subject
back into its proper course, there was no putting an end to his extreme
solicitude about her.  She was vexed.  It did appear--there was no
concealing it--exactly like the pretence of being in love with her,
instead of Harriet; an inconstancy, if real, the most contemptible and
abominable! and she had difficulty in behaving with temper.  He turned
to Mrs. Weston to implore her assistance, "Would not she give him her
support?--would not she add her persuasions to his, to induce Miss
Woodhouse not to go to Mrs. Goddard's till it were certain that Miss
Smith's disorder had no infection?  He could not be satisfied without a
promise--would not she give him her influence in procuring it?"

"So scrupulous for others," he continued, "and yet so careless for
herself!  She wanted me to nurse my cold by staying at home to-day, and
yet will not promise to avoid the danger of catching an ulcerated sore
throat herself.  Is this fair, Mrs. Weston?--Judge between us.  Have
not I some right to complain?  I am sure of your kind support and aid."

Emma saw Mrs. Weston's surprize, and felt that it must be great, at an
address which, in words and manner, was assuming to himself the right
of first interest in her; and as for herself, she was too much provoked
and offended to have the power of directly saying any thing to the
purpose.  She could only give him a look; but it was such a look as she
thought must restore him to his senses, and then left the sofa,
removing to a seat by her sister, and giving her all her attention.

She had not time to know how Mr. Elton took the reproof, so rapidly did
another subject succeed; for Mr. John Knightley now came into the room
from examining the weather, and opened on them all with the information
of the ground being covered with snow, and of its still snowing fast,
with a strong drifting wind; concluding with these words to Mr.
Woodhouse:

"This will prove a spirited beginning of your winter engagements, sir.
Something new for your coachman and horses to be making their way
through a storm of snow."

Poor Mr. Woodhouse was silent from consternation; but every body else
had something to say; every body was either surprized or not surprized,
and had some question to ask, or some comfort to offer.  Mrs. Weston
and Emma tried earnestly to cheer him and turn his attention from his
son-in-law, who was pursuing his triumph rather unfeelingly.

"I admired your resolution very much, sir," said he, "in venturing out
in such weather, for of course you saw there would be snow very soon.
Every body must have seen the snow coming on.  I admired your spirit;
and I dare say we shall get home very well.  Another hour or two's snow
can hardly make the road impassable; and we are two carriages; if one
is blown over in the bleak part of the common field there will be the
other at hand.  I dare say we shall be all safe at Hartfield before
midnight."

Mr. Weston, with triumph of a different sort, was confessing that he
had known it to be snowing some time, but had not said a word, lest it
should make Mr. Woodhouse uncomfortable, and be an excuse for his
hurrying away.  As to there being any quantity of snow fallen or likely
to fall to impede their return, that was a mere joke; he was afraid
they would find no difficulty.  He wished the road might be impassable,
that he might be able to keep them all at Randalls; and with the utmost
good-will was sure that accommodation might be found for every body,
calling on his wife to agree with him, that with a little contrivance,
every body might be lodged, which she hardly knew how to do, from the
consciousness of there being but two spare rooms in the house.

"What is to be done, my dear Emma?--what is to be done?" was Mr.
Woodhouse's first exclamation, and all that he could say for some time.
To her he looked for comfort; and her assurances of safety, her
representation of the excellence of the horses, and of James, and of
their having so many friends about them, revived him a little.

His eldest daughter's alarm was equal to his own.  The horror of being
blocked up at Randalls, while her children were at Hartfield, was full
in her imagination; and fancying the road to be now just passable for
adventurous people, but in a state that admitted no delay, she was
eager to have it settled, that her father and Emma should remain at
Randalls, while she and her husband set forward instantly through all
the possible accumulations of drifted snow that might impede them.

"You had better order the carriage directly, my love," said she; "I
dare say we shall be able to get along, if we set off directly; and if
we do come to any thing very bad, I can get out and walk.  I am not at
all afraid.  I should not mind walking half the way.  I could change my
shoes, you know, the moment I got home; and it is not the sort of thing
that gives me cold."

"Indeed!" replied he.  "Then, my dear Isabella, it is the most
extraordinary sort of thing in the world, for in general every thing
does give you cold.  Walk home!--you are prettily shod for walking
home, I dare say.  It will be bad enough for the horses."

Isabella turned to Mrs. Weston for her approbation of the plan.  Mrs.
Weston could only approve.  Isabella then went to Emma; but Emma could
not so entirely give up the hope of their being all able to get away;
and they were still discussing the point, when Mr. Knightley, who had
left the room immediately after his brother's first report of the snow,
came back again, and told them that he had been out of doors to
examine, and could answer for there not being the smallest difficulty
in their getting home, whenever they liked it, either now or an hour
hence.  He had gone beyond the sweep--some way along the Highbury
road--the snow was nowhere above half an inch deep--in many places
hardly enough to whiten the ground; a very few flakes were falling at
present, but the clouds were parting, and there was every appearance of
its being soon over.  He had seen the coachmen, and they both agreed
with him in there being nothing to apprehend.

To Isabella, the relief of such tidings was very great, and they were
scarcely less acceptable to Emma on her father's account, who was
immediately set as much at ease on the subject as his nervous
constitution allowed; but the alarm that had been raised could not be
appeased so as to admit of any comfort for him while he continued at
Randalls.  He was satisfied of there being no present danger in
returning home, but no assurances could convince him that it was safe
to stay; and while the others were variously urging and recommending,
Mr. Knightley and Emma settled it in a few brief sentences:  thus--

"Your father will not be easy; why do not you go?"

"I am ready, if the others are."

"Shall I ring the bell?"

"Yes, do."

And the bell was rung, and the carriages spoken for.  A few minutes
more, and Emma hoped to see one troublesome companion deposited in his
own house, to get sober and cool, and the other recover his temper and
happiness when this visit of hardship were over.

The carriage came:  and Mr. Woodhouse, always the first object on such
occasions, was carefully attended to his own by Mr. Knightley and Mr.
Weston; but not all that either could say could prevent some renewal of
alarm at the sight of the snow which had actually fallen, and the
discovery of a much darker night than he had been prepared for.  "He
was afraid they should have a very bad drive.  He was afraid poor
Isabella would not like it.  And there would be poor Emma in the
carriage behind.  He did not know what they had best do.  They must
keep as much together as they could;" and James was talked to, and
given a charge to go very slow and wait for the other carriage.

Isabella stept in after her father; John Knightley, forgetting that he
did not belong to their party, stept in after his wife very naturally;
so that Emma found, on being escorted and followed into the second
carriage by Mr. Elton, that the door was to be lawfully shut on them,
and that they were to have a tete-a-tete drive.  It would not have been
the awkwardness of a moment, it would have been rather a pleasure,
previous to the suspicions of this very day; she could have talked to
him of Harriet, and the three-quarters of a mile would have seemed but
one.  But now, she would rather it had not happened.  She believed he
had been drinking too much of Mr. Weston's good wine, and felt sure
that he would want to be talking nonsense.

To restrain him as much as might be, by her own manners, she was
immediately preparing to speak with exquisite calmness and gravity of
the weather and the night; but scarcely had she begun, scarcely had
they passed the sweep-gate and joined the other carriage, than she
found her subject cut up--her hand seized--her attention demanded, and
Mr. Elton actually making violent love to her:  availing himself of the
precious opportunity, declaring sentiments which must be already well
known, hoping--fearing--adoring--ready to die if she refused him; but
flattering himself that his ardent attachment and unequalled love and
unexampled passion could not fail of having some effect, and in short,
very much resolved on being seriously accepted as soon as possible.  It
really was so.  Without scruple--without apology--without much
apparent diffidence, Mr. Elton, the lover of Harriet, was professing
himself _her_ lover.  She tried to stop him; but vainly; he would go
on, and say it all.  Angry as she was, the thought of the moment made
her resolve to restrain herself when she did speak.  She felt that half
this folly must be drunkenness, and therefore could hope that it might
belong only to the passing hour.  Accordingly, with a mixture of the
serious and the playful, which she hoped would best suit his half and
half state, she replied,

"I am very much astonished, Mr. Elton.  This to _me_! you forget
yourself--you take me for my friend--any message to Miss Smith I shall
be happy to deliver; but no more of this to _me_, if you please."

"Miss Smith!--message to Miss Smith!--What could she possibly mean!"--
And he repeated her words with such assurance of accent, such boastful
pretence of amazement, that she could not help replying with quickness,

"Mr. Elton, this is the most extraordinary conduct! and I can account
for it only in one way; you are not yourself, or you could not speak
either to me, or of Harriet, in such a manner.  Command yourself enough
to say no more, and I will endeavour to forget it."

But Mr. Elton had only drunk wine enough to elevate his spirits, not at
all to confuse his intellects.  He perfectly knew his own meaning; and
having warmly protested against her suspicion as most injurious, and
slightly touched upon his respect for Miss Smith as her friend,--but
acknowledging his wonder that Miss Smith should be mentioned at
all,--he resumed the subject of his own passion, and was very urgent
for a favourable answer.

As she thought less of his inebriety, she thought more of his
inconstancy and presumption; and with fewer struggles for politeness,
replied,

"It is impossible for me to doubt any longer.  You have made yourself
too clear.  Mr. Elton, my astonishment is much beyond any thing I can
express.  After such behaviour, as I have witnessed during the last
month, to Miss Smith--such attentions as I have been in the daily habit
of observing--to be addressing me in this manner--this is an
unsteadiness of character, indeed, which I had not supposed possible!
Believe me, sir, I am far, very far, from gratified in being the object
of such professions."

"Good Heaven!" cried Mr. Elton, "what can be the meaning of this?--
Miss Smith!--I never thought of Miss Smith in the whole course of my
existence--never paid her any attentions, but as your friend: never
cared whether she were dead or alive, but as your friend.  If she has
fancied otherwise, her own wishes have misled her, and I am very
sorry--extremely sorry--But, Miss Smith, indeed!--Oh!  Miss Woodhouse!
who can think of Miss Smith, when Miss Woodhouse is near!  No, upon my
honour, there is no unsteadiness of character.  I have thought only of
you.  I protest against having paid the smallest attention to any one
else.  Every thing that I have said or done, for many weeks past, has
been with the sole view of marking my adoration of yourself.  You
cannot really, seriously, doubt it.  No!--(in an accent meant to be
insinuating)--I am sure you have seen and understood me."

It would be impossible to say what Emma felt, on hearing this--which
of all her unpleasant sensations was uppermost.  She was too completely
overpowered to be immediately able to reply: and two moments of silence
being ample encouragement for Mr. Elton's sanguine state of mind, he
tried to take her hand again, as he joyously exclaimed--

"Charming Miss Woodhouse! allow me to interpret this interesting
silence.  It confesses that you have long understood me."

"No, sir," cried Emma, "it confesses no such thing.  So far from having
long understood you, I have been in a most complete error with respect
to your views, till this moment.  As to myself, I am very sorry that
you should have been giving way to any feelings-- Nothing could be
farther from my wishes--your attachment to my friend Harriet--your
pursuit of her, (pursuit, it appeared,) gave me great pleasure, and I
have been very earnestly wishing you success: but had I supposed that
she were not your attraction to Hartfield, I should certainly have
thought you judged ill in making your visits so frequent.  Am I to
believe that you have never sought to recommend yourself particularly
to Miss Smith?--that you have never thought seriously of her?"

"Never, madam," cried he, affronted in his turn:  "never, I assure you.
_I_ think seriously of Miss Smith!--Miss Smith is a very good sort of
girl; and I should be happy to see her respectably settled.  I wish her
extremely well:  and, no doubt, there are men who might not object
to--Every body has their level:  but as for myself, I am not, I think,
quite so much at a loss.  I need not so totally despair of an equal
alliance, as to be addressing myself to Miss Smith!-- No, madam, my
visits to Hartfield have been for yourself only; and the encouragement
I received--"

"Encouragement!--I give you encouragement!--Sir, you have been entirely
mistaken in supposing it.  I have seen you only as the admirer of my
friend.  In no other light could you have been more to me than a common
acquaintance.  I am exceedingly sorry:  but it is well that the mistake
ends where it does.  Had the same behaviour continued, Miss Smith might
have been led into a misconception of your views; not being aware,
probably, any more than myself, of the very great inequality which you
are so sensible of.  But, as it is, the disappointment is single, and,
I trust, will not be lasting.  I have no thoughts of matrimony at
present."

He was too angry to say another word; her manner too decided to invite
supplication; and in this state of swelling resentment, and mutually
deep mortification, they had to continue together a few minutes longer,
for the fears of Mr. Woodhouse had confined them to a foot-pace. If
there had not been so much anger, there would have been desperate
awkwardness; but their straightforward emotions left no room for the
little zigzags of embarrassment.  Without knowing when the carriage
turned into Vicarage Lane, or when it stopped, they found themselves,
all at once, at the door of his house; and he was out before another
syllable passed.--Emma then felt it indispensable to wish him a good
night.  The compliment was just returned, coldly and proudly; and,
under indescribable irritation of spirits, she was then conveyed to
Hartfield.

There she was welcomed, with the utmost delight, by her father, who had
been trembling for the dangers of a solitary drive from Vicarage
Lane--turning a corner which he could never bear to think of--and in
strange hands--a mere common coachman--no James; and there it seemed as
if her return only were wanted to make every thing go well: for Mr.
John Knightley, ashamed of his ill-humour, was now all kindness and
attention; and so particularly solicitous for the comfort of her
father, as to seem--if not quite ready to join him in a basin of
gruel--perfectly sensible of its being exceedingly wholesome; and the
day was concluding in peace and comfort to all their little party,
except herself.--But her mind had never been in such perturbation; and
it needed a very strong effort to appear attentive and cheerful till
the usual hour of separating allowed her the relief of quiet reflection.



CHAPTER XVI


The hair was curled, and the maid sent away, and Emma sat down to think
and be miserable.--It was a wretched business indeed!--Such an
overthrow of every thing she had been wishing for!--Such a development
of every thing most unwelcome!--Such a blow for Harriet!--that was the
worst of all.  Every part of it brought pain and humiliation, of some
sort or other; but, compared with the evil to Harriet, all was light;
and she would gladly have submitted to feel yet more mistaken--more in
error--more disgraced by mis-judgment, than she actually was, could the
effects of her blunders have been confined to herself.

"If I had not persuaded Harriet into liking the man, I could have borne
any thing.  He might have doubled his presumption to me--but poor
Harriet!"

How she could have been so deceived!--He protested that he had never
thought seriously of Harriet--never!  She looked back as well as she
could; but it was all confusion.  She had taken up the idea, she
supposed, and made every thing bend to it.  His manners, however, must
have been unmarked, wavering, dubious, or she could not have been so
misled.

The picture!--How eager he had been about the picture!--and the
charade!--and an hundred other circumstances;--how clearly they had
seemed to point at Harriet.  To be sure, the charade, with its "ready
wit"--but then the "soft eyes"--in fact it suited neither; it was a
jumble without taste or truth.  Who could have seen through such
thick-headed nonsense?

Certainly she had often, especially of late, thought his manners to
herself unnecessarily gallant; but it had passed as his way, as a mere
error of judgment, of knowledge, of taste, as one proof among others
that he had not always lived in the best society, that with all the
gentleness of his address, true elegance was sometimes wanting; but,
till this very day, she had never, for an instant, suspected it to mean
any thing but grateful respect to her as Harriet's friend.

To Mr. John Knightley was she indebted for her first idea on the
subject, for the first start of its possibility.  There was no denying
that those brothers had penetration.  She remembered what Mr. Knightley
had once said to her about Mr. Elton, the caution he had given, the
conviction he had professed that Mr. Elton would never marry
indiscreetly; and blushed to think how much truer a knowledge of his
character had been there shewn than any she had reached herself.  It
was dreadfully mortifying; but Mr. Elton was proving himself, in many
respects, the very reverse of what she had meant and believed him;
proud, assuming, conceited; very full of his own claims, and little
concerned about the feelings of others.

Contrary to the usual course of things, Mr. Elton's wanting to pay his
addresses to her had sunk him in her opinion.  His professions and his
proposals did him no service.  She thought nothing of his attachment,
and was insulted by his hopes.  He wanted to marry well, and having the
arrogance to raise his eyes to her, pretended to be in love; but she
was perfectly easy as to his not suffering any disappointment that need
be cared for.  There had been no real affection either in his language
or manners.  Sighs and fine words had been given in abundance; but she
could hardly devise any set of expressions, or fancy any tone of voice,
less allied with real love.  She need not trouble herself to pity him.
He only wanted to aggrandise and enrich himself; and if Miss Woodhouse
of Hartfield, the heiress of thirty thousand pounds, were not quite so
easily obtained as he had fancied, he would soon try for Miss Somebody
else with twenty, or with ten.

But--that he should talk of encouragement, should consider her as aware
of his views, accepting his attentions, meaning (in short), to marry
him!--should suppose himself her equal in connexion or mind!--look down
upon her friend, so well understanding the gradations of rank below
him, and be so blind to what rose above, as to fancy himself shewing no
presumption in addressing her!-- It was most provoking.

Perhaps it was not fair to expect him to feel how very much he was her
inferior in talent, and all the elegancies of mind.  The very want of
such equality might prevent his perception of it; but he must know that
in fortune and consequence she was greatly his superior.  He must know
that the Woodhouses had been settled for several generations at
Hartfield, the younger branch of a very ancient family--and that the
Eltons were nobody.  The landed property of Hartfield certainly was
inconsiderable, being but a sort of notch in the Donwell Abbey estate,
to which all the rest of Highbury belonged; but their fortune, from
other sources, was such as to make them scarcely secondary to Donwell
Abbey itself, in every other kind of consequence; and the Woodhouses
had long held a high place in the consideration of the neighbourhood
which Mr. Elton had first entered not two years ago, to make his way as
he could, without any alliances but in trade, or any thing to recommend
him to notice but his situation and his civility.-- But he had fancied
her in love with him; that evidently must have been his dependence; and
after raving a little about the seeming incongruity of gentle manners
and a conceited head, Emma was obliged in common honesty to stop and
admit that her own behaviour to him had been so complaisant and
obliging, so full of courtesy and attention, as (supposing her real
motive unperceived) might warrant a man of ordinary observation and
delicacy, like Mr. Elton, in fancying himself a very decided favourite.
If _she_ had so misinterpreted his feelings, she had little right to
wonder that _he_, with self-interest to blind him, should have mistaken
hers.

The first error and the worst lay at her door.  It was foolish, it was
wrong, to take so active a part in bringing any two people together.
It was adventuring too far, assuming too much, making light of what
ought to be serious, a trick of what ought to be simple.  She was quite
concerned and ashamed, and resolved to do such things no more.

"Here have I," said she, "actually talked poor Harriet into being very
much attached to this man.  She might never have thought of him but for
me; and certainly never would have thought of him with hope, if I had
not assured her of his attachment, for she is as modest and humble as I
used to think him.  Oh! that I had been satisfied with persuading her
not to accept young Martin.  There I was quite right.  That was well
done of me; but there I should have stopped, and left the rest to time
and chance.  I was introducing her into good company, and giving her
the opportunity of pleasing some one worth having; I ought not to have
attempted more.  But now, poor girl, her peace is cut up for some time.
I have been but half a friend to her; and if she were _not_ to feel
this disappointment so very much, I am sure I have not an idea of any
body else who would be at all desirable for her;--William Coxe--Oh! no,
I could not endure William Coxe--a pert young lawyer."

She stopt to blush and laugh at her own relapse, and then resumed a
more serious, more dispiriting cogitation upon what had been, and might
be, and must be.  The distressing explanation she had to make to
Harriet, and all that poor Harriet would be suffering, with the
awkwardness of future meetings, the difficulties of continuing or
discontinuing the acquaintance, of subduing feelings, concealing
resentment, and avoiding eclat, were enough to occupy her in most
unmirthful reflections some time longer, and she went to bed at last
with nothing settled but the conviction of her having blundered most
dreadfully.

To youth and natural cheerfulness like Emma's, though under temporary
gloom at night, the return of day will hardly fail to bring return of
spirits.  The youth and cheerfulness of morning are in happy analogy,
and of powerful operation; and if the distress be not poignant enough
to keep the eyes unclosed, they will be sure to open to sensations of
softened pain and brighter hope.

Emma got up on the morrow more disposed for comfort than she had gone
to bed, more ready to see alleviations of the evil before her, and to
depend on getting tolerably out of it.

It was a great consolation that Mr. Elton should not be really in love
with her, or so particularly amiable as to make it shocking to
disappoint him--that Harriet's nature should not be of that superior
sort in which the feelings are most acute and retentive--and that
there could be no necessity for any body's knowing what had passed
except the three principals, and especially for her father's being
given a moment's uneasiness about it.

These were very cheering thoughts; and the sight of a great deal of
snow on the ground did her further service, for any thing was welcome
that might justify their all three being quite asunder at present.

The weather was most favourable for her; though Christmas Day, she
could not go to church.  Mr. Woodhouse would have been miserable had
his daughter attempted it, and she was therefore safe from either
exciting or receiving unpleasant and most unsuitable ideas.  The ground
covered with snow, and the atmosphere in that unsettled state between
frost and thaw, which is of all others the most unfriendly for
exercise, every morning beginning in rain or snow, and every evening
setting in to freeze, she was for many days a most honourable prisoner.
No intercourse with Harriet possible but by note; no church for her on
Sunday any more than on Christmas Day; and no need to find excuses for
Mr. Elton's absenting himself.

It was weather which might fairly confine every body at home; and
though she hoped and believed him to be really taking comfort in some
society or other, it was very pleasant to have her father so well
satisfied with his being all alone in his own house, too wise to stir
out; and to hear him say to Mr. Knightley, whom no weather could keep
entirely from them,--

"Ah!  Mr. Knightley, why do not you stay at home like poor Mr. Elton?"

These days of confinement would have been, but for her private
perplexities, remarkably comfortable, as such seclusion exactly suited
her brother, whose feelings must always be of great importance to his
companions; and he had, besides, so thoroughly cleared off his
ill-humour at Randalls, that his amiableness never failed him during
the rest of his stay at Hartfield.  He was always agreeable and
obliging, and speaking pleasantly of every body.  But with all the
hopes of cheerfulness, and all the present comfort of delay, there was
still such an evil hanging over her in the hour of explanation with
Harriet, as made it impossible for Emma to be ever perfectly at ease.



CHAPTER XVII


Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley were not detained long at Hartfield.  The
weather soon improved enough for those to move who must move; and Mr.
Woodhouse having, as usual, tried to persuade his daughter to stay
behind with all her children, was obliged to see the whole party set
off, and return to his lamentations over the destiny of poor
Isabella;--which poor Isabella, passing her life with those she doated
on, full of their merits, blind to their faults, and always innocently
busy, might have been a model of right feminine happiness.

The evening of the very day on which they went brought a note from Mr.
Elton to Mr. Woodhouse, a long, civil, ceremonious note, to say, with
Mr. Elton's best compliments, "that he was proposing to leave Highbury
the following morning in his way to Bath; where, in compliance with the
pressing entreaties of some friends, he had engaged to spend a few
weeks, and very much regretted the impossibility he was under, from
various circumstances of weather and business, of taking a personal
leave of Mr. Woodhouse, of whose friendly civilities he should ever
retain a grateful sense--and had Mr. Woodhouse any commands, should be
happy to attend to them."

Emma was most agreeably surprized.--Mr. Elton's absence just at this
time was the very thing to be desired.  She admired him for contriving
it, though not able to give him much credit for the manner in which it
was announced.  Resentment could not have been more plainly spoken than
in a civility to her father, from which she was so pointedly excluded.
She had not even a share in his opening compliments.--Her name was not
mentioned;--and there was so striking a change in all this, and such
an ill-judged solemnity of leave-taking in his graceful
acknowledgments, as she thought, at first, could not escape her
father's suspicion.

It did, however.--Her father was quite taken up with the surprize of so
sudden a journey, and his fears that Mr. Elton might never get safely
to the end of it, and saw nothing extraordinary in his language.  It
was a very useful note, for it supplied them with fresh matter for
thought and conversation during the rest of their lonely evening.  Mr.
Woodhouse talked over his alarms, and Emma was in spirits to persuade
them away with all her usual promptitude.

She now resolved to keep Harriet no longer in the dark.  She had reason
to believe her nearly recovered from her cold, and it was desirable
that she should have as much time as possible for getting the better of
her other complaint before the gentleman's return.  She went to Mrs.
Goddard's accordingly the very next day, to undergo the necessary
penance of communication; and a severe one it was.-- She had to destroy
all the hopes which she had been so industriously feeding--to appear in
the ungracious character of the one preferred--and acknowledge herself
grossly mistaken and mis-judging in all her ideas on one subject, all
her observations, all her convictions, all her prophecies for the last
six weeks.

The confession completely renewed her first shame--and the sight of
Harriet's tears made her think that she should never be in charity with
herself again.

Harriet bore the intelligence very well--blaming nobody--and in every
thing testifying such an ingenuousness of disposition and lowly opinion
of herself, as must appear with particular advantage at that moment to
her friend.

Emma was in the humour to value simplicity and modesty to the utmost;
and all that was amiable, all that ought to be attaching, seemed on
Harriet's side, not her own.  Harriet did not consider herself as
having any thing to complain of.  The affection of such a man as Mr.
Elton would have been too great a distinction.-- She never could have
deserved him--and nobody but so partial and kind a friend as Miss
Woodhouse would have thought it possible.

Her tears fell abundantly--but her grief was so truly artless, that no
dignity could have made it more respectable in Emma's eyes--and she
listened to her and tried to console her with all her heart and
understanding--really for the time convinced that Harriet was the
superior creature of the two--and that to resemble her would be more
for her own welfare and happiness than all that genius or intelligence
could do.

It was rather too late in the day to set about being simple-minded and
ignorant; but she left her with every previous resolution confirmed of
being humble and discreet, and repressing imagination all the rest of
her life.  Her second duty now, inferior only to her father's claims,
was to promote Harriet's comfort, and endeavour to prove her own
affection in some better method than by match-making.  She got her to
Hartfield, and shewed her the most unvarying kindness, striving to
occupy and amuse her, and by books and conversation, to drive Mr. Elton
from her thoughts.

Time, she knew, must be allowed for this being thoroughly done; and she
could suppose herself but an indifferent judge of such matters in
general, and very inadequate to sympathise in an attachment to Mr.
Elton in particular; but it seemed to her reasonable that at Harriet's
age, and with the entire extinction of all hope, such a progress might
be made towards a state of composure by the time of Mr. Elton's return,
as to allow them all to meet again in the common routine of
acquaintance, without any danger of betraying sentiments or increasing
them.

Harriet did think him all perfection, and maintained the non-existence
of any body equal to him in person or goodness--and did, in truth,
prove herself more resolutely in love than Emma had foreseen; but yet
it appeared to her so natural, so inevitable to strive against an
inclination of that sort _unrequited_, that she could not comprehend
its continuing very long in equal force.

If Mr. Elton, on his return, made his own indifference as evident and
indubitable as she could not doubt he would anxiously do, she could not
imagine Harriet's persisting to place her happiness in the sight or the
recollection of him.

Their being fixed, so absolutely fixed, in the same place, was bad for
each, for all three.  Not one of them had the power of removal, or of
effecting any material change of society.  They must encounter each
other, and make the best of it.

Harriet was farther unfortunate in the tone of her companions at Mrs.
Goddard's; Mr. Elton being the adoration of all the teachers and great
girls in the school; and it must be at Hartfield only that she could
have any chance of hearing him spoken of with cooling moderation or
repellent truth.  Where the wound had been given, there must the cure
be found if anywhere; and Emma felt that, till she saw her in the way
of cure, there could be no true peace for herself.



CHAPTER XVIII


Mr. Frank Churchill did not come.  When the time proposed drew near,
Mrs. Weston's fears were justified in the arrival of a letter of
excuse.  For the present, he could not be spared, to his "very great
mortification and regret; but still he looked forward with the hope of
coming to Randalls at no distant period."

Mrs. Weston was exceedingly disappointed--much more disappointed, in
fact, than her husband, though her dependence on seeing the young man
had been so much more sober:  but a sanguine temper, though for ever
expecting more good than occurs, does not always pay for its hopes by
any proportionate depression.  It soon flies over the present failure,
and begins to hope again.  For half an hour Mr. Weston was surprized
and sorry; but then he began to perceive that Frank's coming two or
three months later would be a much better plan; better time of year;
better weather; and that he would be able, without any doubt, to stay
considerably longer with them than if he had come sooner.

These feelings rapidly restored his comfort, while Mrs. Weston, of a
more apprehensive disposition, foresaw nothing but a repetition of
excuses and delays; and after all her concern for what her husband was
to suffer, suffered a great deal more herself.

Emma was not at this time in a state of spirits to care really about
Mr. Frank Churchill's not coming, except as a disappointment at
Randalls.  The acquaintance at present had no charm for her.  She
wanted, rather, to be quiet, and out of temptation; but still, as it
was desirable that she should appear, in general, like her usual self,
she took care to express as much interest in the circumstance, and
enter as warmly into Mr. and Mrs. Weston's disappointment, as might
naturally belong to their friendship.

She was the first to announce it to Mr. Knightley; and exclaimed quite
as much as was necessary, (or, being acting a part, perhaps rather
more,) at the conduct of the Churchills, in keeping him away.  She then
proceeded to say a good deal more than she felt, of the advantage of
such an addition to their confined society in Surry; the pleasure of
looking at somebody new; the gala-day to Highbury entire, which the
sight of him would have made; and ending with reflections on the
Churchills again, found herself directly involved in a disagreement
with Mr. Knightley; and, to her great amusement, perceived that she was
taking the other side of the question from her real opinion, and making
use of Mrs. Weston's arguments against herself.

"The Churchills are very likely in fault," said Mr. Knightley, coolly;
"but I dare say he might come if he would."

"I do not know why you should say so.  He wishes exceedingly to come;
but his uncle and aunt will not spare him."

"I cannot believe that he has not the power of coming, if he made a
point of it.  It is too unlikely, for me to believe it without proof."

"How odd you are!  What has Mr. Frank Churchill done, to make you
suppose him such an unnatural creature?"

"I am not supposing him at all an unnatural creature, in suspecting
that he may have learnt to be above his connexions, and to care very
little for any thing but his own pleasure, from living with those who
have always set him the example of it.  It is a great deal more natural
than one could wish, that a young man, brought up by those who are
proud, luxurious, and selfish, should be proud, luxurious, and selfish
too.  If Frank Churchill had wanted to see his father, he would have
contrived it between September and January.  A man at his age--what is
he?--three or four-and-twenty--cannot be without the means of doing as
much as that.  It is impossible."

"That's easily said, and easily felt by you, who have always been your
own master.  You are the worst judge in the world, Mr. Knightley, of
the difficulties of dependence.  You do not know what it is to have
tempers to manage."

"It is not to be conceived that a man of three or four-and-twenty
should not have liberty of mind or limb to that amount.  He cannot want
money--he cannot want leisure.  We know, on the contrary, that he has
so much of both, that he is glad to get rid of them at the idlest
haunts in the kingdom.  We hear of him for ever at some watering-place
or other.  A little while ago, he was at Weymouth.  This proves that he
can leave the Churchills."

"Yes, sometimes he can."

"And those times are whenever he thinks it worth his while; whenever
there is any temptation of pleasure."

"It is very unfair to judge of any body's conduct, without an intimate
knowledge of their situation.  Nobody, who has not been in the interior
of a family, can say what the difficulties of any individual of that
family may be.  We ought to be acquainted with Enscombe, and with Mrs.
Churchill's temper, before we pretend to decide upon what her nephew
can do.  He may, at times, be able to do a great deal more than he can
at others."

"There is one thing, Emma, which a man can always do, if he chuses, and
that is, his duty; not by manoeuvring and finessing, but by vigour and
resolution.  It is Frank Churchill's duty to pay this attention to his
father.  He knows it to be so, by his promises and messages; but if he
wished to do it, it might be done.  A man who felt rightly would say at
once, simply and resolutely, to Mrs. Churchill-- 'Every sacrifice of
mere pleasure you will always find me ready to make to your
convenience; but I must go and see my father immediately.  I know he
would be hurt by my failing in such a mark of respect to him on the
present occasion.  I shall, therefore, set off to-morrow.'-- If he
would say so to her at once, in the tone of decision becoming a man,
there would be no opposition made to his going."

"No," said Emma, laughing; "but perhaps there might be some made to his
coming back again.  Such language for a young man entirely dependent,
to use!--Nobody but you, Mr. Knightley, would imagine it possible.  But
you have not an idea of what is requisite in situations directly
opposite to your own.  Mr. Frank Churchill to be making such a speech
as that to the uncle and aunt, who have brought him up, and are to
provide for him!--Standing up in the middle of the room, I suppose, and
speaking as loud as he could!--How can you imagine such conduct
practicable?"

"Depend upon it, Emma, a sensible man would find no difficulty in it.
He would feel himself in the right; and the declaration--made, of
course, as a man of sense would make it, in a proper manner--would do
him more good, raise him higher, fix his interest stronger with the
people he depended on, than all that a line of shifts and expedients
can ever do.  Respect would be added to affection.  They would feel
that they could trust him; that the nephew who had done rightly by his
father, would do rightly by them; for they know, as well as he does, as
well as all the world must know, that he ought to pay this visit to his
father; and while meanly exerting their power to delay it, are in their
hearts not thinking the better of him for submitting to their whims.
Respect for right conduct is felt by every body.  If he would act in
this sort of manner, on principle, consistently, regularly, their
little minds would bend to his."

"I rather doubt that.  You are very fond of bending little minds; but
where little minds belong to rich people in authority, I think they
have a knack of swelling out, till they are quite as unmanageable as
great ones.  I can imagine, that if you, as you are, Mr. Knightley,
were to be transported and placed all at once in Mr. Frank Churchill's
situation, you would be able to say and do just what you have been
recommending for him; and it might have a very good effect.  The
Churchills might not have a word to say in return; but then, you would
have no habits of early obedience and long observance to break through.
To him who has, it might not be so easy to burst forth at once into
perfect independence, and set all their claims on his gratitude and
regard at nought.  He may have as strong a sense of what would be
right, as you can have, without being so equal, under particular
circumstances, to act up to it."

"Then it would not be so strong a sense.  If it failed to produce equal
exertion, it could not be an equal conviction."

"Oh, the difference of situation and habit!  I wish you would try to
understand what an amiable young man may be likely to feel in directly
opposing those, whom as child and boy he has been looking up to all his
life."

"Our amiable young man is a very weak young man, if this be the first
occasion of his carrying through a resolution to do right against the
will of others.  It ought to have been a habit with him by this time,
of following his duty, instead of consulting expediency.  I can allow
for the fears of the child, but not of the man.  As he became rational,
he ought to have roused himself and shaken off all that was unworthy in
their authority.  He ought to have opposed the first attempt on their
side to make him slight his father.  Had he begun as he ought, there
would have been no difficulty now."

"We shall never agree about him," cried Emma; "but that is nothing
extraordinary.  I have not the least idea of his being a weak young
man:  I feel sure that he is not.  Mr. Weston would not be blind to
folly, though in his own son; but he is very likely to have a more
yielding, complying, mild disposition than would suit your notions of
man's perfection.  I dare say he has; and though it may cut him off
from some advantages, it will secure him many others."

"Yes; all the advantages of sitting still when he ought to move, and of
leading a life of mere idle pleasure, and fancying himself extremely
expert in finding excuses for it.  He can sit down and write a fine
flourishing letter, full of professions and falsehoods, and persuade
himself that he has hit upon the very best method in the world of
preserving peace at home and preventing his father's having any right
to complain.  His letters disgust me."

"Your feelings are singular.  They seem to satisfy every body else."

"I suspect they do not satisfy Mrs. Weston.  They hardly can satisfy a
woman of her good sense and quick feelings:  standing in a mother's
place, but without a mother's affection to blind her.  It is on her
account that attention to Randalls is doubly due, and she must doubly
feel the omission.  Had she been a person of consequence herself, he
would have come I dare say; and it would not have signified whether he
did or no.  Can you think your friend behindhand in these sort of
considerations?  Do you suppose she does not often say all this to
herself?  No, Emma, your amiable young man can be amiable only in
French, not in English.  He may be very 'aimable,' have very good
manners, and be very agreeable; but he can have no English delicacy
towards the feelings of other people: nothing really amiable about him."

"You seem determined to think ill of him."

"Me!--not at all," replied Mr. Knightley, rather displeased; "I do not
want to think ill of him.  I should be as ready to acknowledge his
merits as any other man; but I hear of none, except what are merely
personal; that he is well-grown and good-looking, with smooth,
plausible manners."

"Well, if he have nothing else to recommend him, he will be a treasure
at Highbury.  We do not often look upon fine young men, well-bred and
agreeable.  We must not be nice and ask for all the virtues into the
bargain.  Cannot you imagine, Mr. Knightley, what a _sensation_ his
coming will produce?  There will be but one subject throughout the
parishes of Donwell and Highbury; but one interest--one object of
curiosity; it will be all Mr. Frank Churchill; we shall think and speak
of nobody else."

"You will excuse my being so much over-powered. If I find him
conversable, I shall be glad of his acquaintance; but if he is only a
chattering coxcomb, he will not occupy much of my time or thoughts."

"My idea of him is, that he can adapt his conversation to the taste of
every body, and has the power as well as the wish of being universally
agreeable.  To you, he will talk of farming; to me, of drawing or
music; and so on to every body, having that general information on all
subjects which will enable him to follow the lead, or take the lead,
just as propriety may require, and to speak extremely well on each;
that is my idea of him."

"And mine," said Mr. Knightley warmly, "is, that if he turn out any
thing like it, he will be the most insufferable fellow breathing!
What! at three-and-twenty to be the king of his company--the great
man--the practised politician, who is to read every body's character,
and make every body's talents conduce to the display of his own
superiority; to be dispensing his flatteries around, that he may make
all appear like fools compared with himself!  My dear Emma, your own
good sense could not endure such a puppy when it came to the point."

"I will say no more about him," cried Emma, "you turn every thing to
evil.  We are both prejudiced; you against, I for him; and we have no
chance of agreeing till he is really here."

"Prejudiced!  I am not prejudiced."

"But I am very much, and without being at all ashamed of it.  My love
for Mr. and Mrs. Weston gives me a decided prejudice in his favour."

"He is a person I never think of from one month's end to another," said
Mr. Knightley, with a degree of vexation, which made Emma immediately
talk of something else, though she could not comprehend why he should
be angry.

To take a dislike to a young man, only because he appeared to be of a
different disposition from himself, was unworthy the real liberality of
mind which she was always used to acknowledge in him; for with all the
high opinion of himself, which she had often laid to his charge, she
had never before for a moment supposed it could make him unjust to the
merit of another.



VOLUME II



CHAPTER I


Emma and Harriet had been walking together one morning, and, in Emma's
opinion, had been talking enough of Mr. Elton for that day.  She could
not think that Harriet's solace or her own sins required more; and she
was therefore industriously getting rid of the subject as they
returned;--but it burst out again when she thought she had succeeded,
and after speaking some time of what the poor must suffer in winter,
and receiving no other answer than a very plaintive-- "Mr. Elton is so
good to the poor!" she found something else must be done.

They were just approaching the house where lived Mrs. and Miss Bates.
She determined to call upon them and seek safety in numbers.  There was
always sufficient reason for such an attention; Mrs. and Miss Bates
loved to be called on, and she knew she was considered by the very few
who presumed ever to see imperfection in her, as rather negligent in
that respect, and as not contributing what she ought to the stock of
their scanty comforts.

She had had many a hint from Mr. Knightley and some from her own heart,
as to her deficiency--but none were equal to counteract the persuasion
of its being very disagreeable,--a waste of time--tiresome women--and
all the horror of being in danger of falling in with the second-rate
and third-rate of Highbury, who were calling on them for ever, and
therefore she seldom went near them.  But now she made the sudden
resolution of not passing their door without going in--observing, as
she proposed it to Harriet, that, as well as she could calculate, they
were just now quite safe from any letter from Jane Fairfax.

The house belonged to people in business.  Mrs. and Miss Bates occupied
the drawing-room floor; and there, in the very moderate-sized
apartment, which was every thing to them, the visitors were most
cordially and even gratefully welcomed; the quiet neat old lady, who
with her knitting was seated in the warmest corner, wanting even to
give up her place to Miss Woodhouse, and her more active, talking
daughter, almost ready to overpower them with care and kindness, thanks
for their visit, solicitude for their shoes, anxious inquiries after
Mr. Woodhouse's health, cheerful communications about her mother's, and
sweet-cake from the beaufet--"Mrs. Cole had just been there, just
called in for ten minutes, and had been so good as to sit an hour with
them, and _she_ had taken a piece of cake and been so kind as to say
she liked it very much; and, therefore, she hoped Miss Woodhouse and
Miss Smith would do them the favour to eat a piece too."

The mention of the Coles was sure to be followed by that of Mr. Elton.
There was intimacy between them, and Mr. Cole had heard from Mr. Elton
since his going away.  Emma knew what was coming; they must have the
letter over again, and settle how long he had been gone, and how much
he was engaged in company, and what a favourite he was wherever he
went, and how full the Master of the Ceremonies' ball had been; and she
went through it very well, with all the interest and all the
commendation that could be requisite, and always putting forward to
prevent Harriet's being obliged to say a word.

This she had been prepared for when she entered the house; but meant,
having once talked him handsomely over, to be no farther incommoded by
any troublesome topic, and to wander at large amongst all the
Mistresses and Misses of Highbury, and their card-parties.  She had not
been prepared to have Jane Fairfax succeed Mr. Elton; but he was
actually hurried off by Miss Bates, she jumped away from him at last
abruptly to the Coles, to usher in a letter from her niece.

"Oh! yes--Mr. Elton, I understand--certainly as to dancing-- Mrs. Cole
was telling me that dancing at the rooms at Bath was-- Mrs. Cole was so
kind as to sit some time with us, talking of Jane; for as soon as she
came in, she began inquiring after her, Jane is so very great a
favourite there.  Whenever she is with us, Mrs. Cole does not know how
to shew her kindness enough; and I must say that Jane deserves it as
much as any body can.  And so she began inquiring after her directly,
saying, 'I know you cannot have heard from Jane lately, because it is
not her time for writing;' and when I immediately said, 'But indeed we
have, we had a letter this very morning,' I do not know that I ever saw
any body more surprized.  'Have you, upon your honour?' said she;
'well, that is quite unexpected.  Do let me hear what she says.'"

Emma's politeness was at hand directly, to say, with smiling interest--

"Have you heard from Miss Fairfax so lately?  I am extremely happy.  I
hope she is well?"

"Thank you.  You are so kind!" replied the happily deceived aunt, while
eagerly hunting for the letter.--"Oh! here it is.  I was sure it could
not be far off; but I had put my huswife upon it, you see, without
being aware, and so it was quite hid, but I had it in my hand so very
lately that I was almost sure it must be on the table.  I was reading
it to Mrs. Cole, and since she went away, I was reading it again to my
mother, for it is such a pleasure to her--a letter from Jane--that she
can never hear it often enough; so I knew it could not be far off, and
here it is, only just under my huswife--and since you are so kind as to
wish to hear what she says;--but, first of all, I really must, in
justice to Jane, apologise for her writing so short a letter--only two
pages you see--hardly two--and in general she fills the whole paper
and crosses half.  My mother often wonders that I can make it out so
well.  She often says, when the letter is first opened, 'Well, Hetty,
now I think you will be put to it to make out all that checker-work'--
don't you, ma'am?--And then I tell her, I am sure she would contrive to
make it out herself, if she had nobody to do it for her--every word of
it--I am sure she would pore over it till she had made out every word.
And, indeed, though my mother's eyes are not so good as they were, she
can see amazingly well still, thank God!  with the help of spectacles.
It is such a blessing!  My mother's are really very good indeed.  Jane
often says, when she is here, 'I am sure, grandmama, you must have had
very strong eyes to see as you do--and so much fine work as you have
done too!--I only wish my eyes may last me as well.'"

All this spoken extremely fast obliged Miss Bates to stop for breath;
and Emma said something very civil about the excellence of Miss
Fairfax's handwriting.

"You are extremely kind," replied Miss Bates, highly gratified; "you
who are such a judge, and write so beautifully yourself.  I am sure
there is nobody's praise that could give us so much pleasure as Miss
Woodhouse's. My mother does not hear; she is a little deaf you know.
Ma'am," addressing her, "do you hear what Miss Woodhouse is so obliging
to say about Jane's handwriting?"

And Emma had the advantage of hearing her own silly compliment repeated
twice over before the good old lady could comprehend it.  She was
pondering, in the meanwhile, upon the possibility, without seeming very
rude, of making her escape from Jane Fairfax's letter, and had almost
resolved on hurrying away directly under some slight excuse, when Miss
Bates turned to her again and seized her attention.

"My mother's deafness is very trifling you see--just nothing at all.
By only raising my voice, and saying any thing two or three times over,
she is sure to hear; but then she is used to my voice.  But it is very
remarkable that she should always hear Jane better than she does me.
Jane speaks so distinct!  However, she will not find her grandmama at
all deafer than she was two years ago; which is saying a great deal at
my mother's time of life--and it really is full two years, you know,
since she was here.  We never were so long without seeing her before,
and as I was telling Mrs. Cole, we shall hardly know how to make enough
of her now."

"Are you expecting Miss Fairfax here soon?"

"Oh yes; next week."

"Indeed!--that must be a very great pleasure."

"Thank you.  You are very kind.  Yes, next week.  Every body is so
surprized; and every body says the same obliging things.  I am sure she
will be as happy to see her friends at Highbury, as they can be to see
her.  Yes, Friday or Saturday; she cannot say which, because Colonel
Campbell will be wanting the carriage himself one of those days.  So
very good of them to send her the whole way!  But they always do, you
know.  Oh yes, Friday or Saturday next.  That is what she writes about.
That is the reason of her writing out of rule, as we call it; for, in
the common course, we should not have heard from her before next
Tuesday or Wednesday."

"Yes, so I imagined.  I was afraid there could be little chance of my
hearing any thing of Miss Fairfax to-day."

"So obliging of you!  No, we should not have heard, if it had not been
for this particular circumstance, of her being to come here so soon.
My mother is so delighted!--for she is to be three months with us at
least.  Three months, she says so, positively, as I am going to have
the pleasure of reading to you.  The case is, you see, that the
Campbells are going to Ireland.  Mrs. Dixon has persuaded her father
and mother to come over and see her directly.  They had not intended to
go over till the summer, but she is so impatient to see them again--for
till she married, last October, she was never away from them so much as
a week, which must make it very strange to be in different kingdoms, I
was going to say, but however different countries, and so she wrote a
very urgent letter to her mother--or her father, I declare I do not
know which it was, but we shall see presently in Jane's letter--wrote
in Mr. Dixon's name as well as her own, to press their coming over
directly, and they would give them the meeting in Dublin, and take them
back to their country seat, Baly-craig, a beautiful place, I fancy.
Jane has heard a great deal of its beauty; from Mr. Dixon, I mean-- I
do not know that she ever heard about it from any body else; but it was
very natural, you know, that he should like to speak of his own place
while he was paying his addresses--and as Jane used to be very often
walking out with them--for Colonel and Mrs. Campbell were very
particular about their daughter's not walking out often with only Mr.
Dixon, for which I do not at all blame them; of course she heard every
thing he might be telling Miss Campbell about his own home in Ireland;
and I think she wrote us word that he had shewn them some drawings of
the place, views that he had taken himself.  He is a most amiable,
charming young man, I believe.  Jane was quite longing to go to
Ireland, from his account of things."

At this moment, an ingenious and animating suspicion entering Emma's
brain with regard to Jane Fairfax, this charming Mr. Dixon, and the not
going to Ireland, she said, with the insidious design of farther
discovery,

"You must feel it very fortunate that Miss Fairfax should be allowed to
come to you at such a time.  Considering the very particular friendship
between her and Mrs. Dixon, you could hardly have expected her to be
excused from accompanying Colonel and Mrs. Campbell."

"Very true, very true, indeed.  The very thing that we have always been
rather afraid of; for we should not have liked to have her at such a
distance from us, for months together--not able to come if any thing
was to happen.  But you see, every thing turns out for the best.  They
want her (Mr. and Mrs. Dixon) excessively to come over with Colonel and
Mrs. Campbell; quite depend upon it; nothing can be more kind or
pressing than their _joint_ invitation, Jane says, as you will hear
presently; Mr. Dixon does not seem in the least backward in any
attention.  He is a most charming young man.  Ever since the service he
rendered Jane at Weymouth, when they were out in that party on the
water, and she, by the sudden whirling round of something or other
among the sails, would have been dashed into the sea at once, and
actually was all but gone, if he had not, with the greatest presence of
mind, caught hold of her habit-- (I can never think of it without
trembling!)--But ever since we had the history of that day, I have been
so fond of Mr. Dixon!"

"But, in spite of all her friends' urgency, and her own wish of seeing
Ireland, Miss Fairfax prefers devoting the time to you and Mrs. Bates?"

"Yes--entirely her own doing, entirely her own choice; and Colonel and
Mrs. Campbell think she does quite right, just what they should
recommend; and indeed they particularly _wish_ her to try her native
air, as she has not been quite so well as usual lately."

"I am concerned to hear of it.  I think they judge wisely.  But Mrs.
Dixon must be very much disappointed.  Mrs. Dixon, I understand, has no
remarkable degree of personal beauty; is not, by any means, to be
compared with Miss Fairfax."

"Oh! no.  You are very obliging to say such things--but certainly not.
There is no comparison between them.  Miss Campbell always was
absolutely plain--but extremely elegant and amiable."

"Yes, that of course."

"Jane caught a bad cold, poor thing! so long ago as the 7th of
November, (as I am going to read to you,) and has never been well
since.  A long time, is not it, for a cold to hang upon her?  She never
mentioned it before, because she would not alarm us.  Just like her! so
considerate!--But however, she is so far from well, that her kind
friends the Campbells think she had better come home, and try an air
that always agrees with her; and they have no doubt that three or four
months at Highbury will entirely cure her--and it is certainly a great
deal better that she should come here, than go to Ireland, if she is
unwell. Nobody could nurse her, as we should do."

"It appears to me the most desirable arrangement in the world."

"And so she is to come to us next Friday or Saturday, and the Campbells
leave town in their way to Holyhead the Monday following--as you will
find from Jane's letter.  So sudden!--You may guess, dear Miss
Woodhouse, what a flurry it has thrown me in!  If it was not for the
drawback of her illness--but I am afraid we must expect to see her
grown thin, and looking very poorly.  I must tell you what an unlucky
thing happened to me, as to that.  I always make a point of reading
Jane's letters through to myself first, before I read them aloud to my
mother, you know, for fear of there being any thing in them to distress
her.  Jane desired me to do it, so I always do:  and so I began to-day
with my usual caution; but no sooner did I come to the mention of her
being unwell, than I burst out, quite frightened, with 'Bless me! poor
Jane is ill!'--which my mother, being on the watch, heard distinctly,
and was sadly alarmed at.  However, when I read on, I found it was not
near so bad as I had fancied at first; and I make so light of it now to
her, that she does not think much about it.  But I cannot imagine how I
could be so off my guard.  If Jane does not get well soon, we will call
in Mr. Perry.  The expense shall not be thought of; and though he is so
liberal, and so fond of Jane that I dare say he would not mean to
charge any thing for attendance, we could not suffer it to be so, you
know.  He has a wife and family to maintain, and is not to be giving
away his time.  Well, now I have just given you a hint of what Jane
writes about, we will turn to her letter, and I am sure she tells her
own story a great deal better than I can tell it for her."

"I am afraid we must be running away," said Emma, glancing at Harriet,
and beginning to rise--"My father will be expecting us.  I had no
intention, I thought I had no power of staying more than five minutes,
when I first entered the house.  I merely called, because I would not
pass the door without inquiring after Mrs. Bates; but I have been so
pleasantly detained!  Now, however, we must wish you and Mrs. Bates
good morning."

And not all that could be urged to detain her succeeded.  She regained
the street--happy in this, that though much had been forced on her
against her will, though she had in fact heard the whole substance of
Jane Fairfax's letter, she had been able to escape the letter itself.



CHAPTER II


Jane Fairfax was an orphan, the only child of Mrs. Bates's youngest
daughter.

The marriage of Lieut. Fairfax of the _______ regiment of infantry, and
Miss Jane Bates, had had its day of fame and pleasure, hope and
interest; but nothing now remained of it, save the melancholy
remembrance of him dying in action abroad--of his widow sinking under
consumption and grief soon afterwards--and this girl.

By birth she belonged to Highbury:  and when at three years old, on
losing her mother, she became the property, the charge, the
consolation, the fondling of her grandmother and aunt, there had seemed
every probability of her being permanently fixed there; of her being
taught only what very limited means could command, and growing up with
no advantages of connexion or improvement, to be engrafted on what
nature had given her in a pleasing person, good understanding, and
warm-hearted, well-meaning relations.

But the compassionate feelings of a friend of her father gave a change
to her destiny.  This was Colonel Campbell, who had very highly
regarded Fairfax, as an excellent officer and most deserving young man;
and farther, had been indebted to him for such attentions, during a
severe camp-fever, as he believed had saved his life.  These were
claims which he did not learn to overlook, though some years passed
away from the death of poor Fairfax, before his own return to England
put any thing in his power.  When he did return, he sought out the
child and took notice of her.  He was a married man, with only one
living child, a girl, about Jane's age:  and Jane became their guest,
paying them long visits and growing a favourite with all; and before
she was nine years old, his daughter's great fondness for her, and his
own wish of being a real friend, united to produce an offer from
Colonel Campbell of undertaking the whole charge of her education.  It
was accepted; and from that period Jane had belonged to Colonel
Campbell's family, and had lived with them entirely, only visiting her
grandmother from time to time.

The plan was that she should be brought up for educating others; the
very few hundred pounds which she inherited from her father making
independence impossible.  To provide for her otherwise was out of
Colonel Campbell's power; for though his income, by pay and
appointments, was handsome, his fortune was moderate and must be all
his daughter's; but, by giving her an education, he hoped to be
supplying the means of respectable subsistence hereafter.

Such was Jane Fairfax's history.  She had fallen into good hands, known
nothing but kindness from the Campbells, and been given an excellent
education.  Living constantly with right-minded and well-informed
people, her heart and understanding had received every advantage of
discipline and culture; and Colonel Campbell's residence being in
London, every lighter talent had been done full justice to, by the
attendance of first-rate masters.  Her disposition and abilities were
equally worthy of all that friendship could do; and at eighteen or
nineteen she was, as far as such an early age can be qualified for the
care of children, fully competent to the office of instruction herself;
but she was too much beloved to be parted with.  Neither father nor
mother could promote, and the daughter could not endure it.  The evil
day was put off.  It was easy to decide that she was still too young;
and Jane remained with them, sharing, as another daughter, in all the
rational pleasures of an elegant society, and a judicious mixture of
home and amusement, with only the drawback of the future, the sobering
suggestions of her own good understanding to remind her that all this
might soon be over.

The affection of the whole family, the warm attachment of Miss Campbell
in particular, was the more honourable to each party from the
circumstance of Jane's decided superiority both in beauty and
acquirements.  That nature had given it in feature could not be unseen
by the young woman, nor could her higher powers of mind be unfelt by
the parents.  They continued together with unabated regard however,
till the marriage of Miss Campbell, who by that chance, that luck which
so often defies anticipation in matrimonial affairs, giving attraction
to what is moderate rather than to what is superior, engaged the
affections of Mr. Dixon, a young man, rich and agreeable, almost as
soon as they were acquainted; and was eligibly and happily settled,
while Jane Fairfax had yet her bread to earn.

This event had very lately taken place; too lately for any thing to be
yet attempted by her less fortunate friend towards entering on her path
of duty; though she had now reached the age which her own judgment had
fixed on for beginning.  She had long resolved that one-and-twenty
should be the period.  With the fortitude of a devoted novitiate, she
had resolved at one-and-twenty to complete the sacrifice, and retire
from all the pleasures of life, of rational intercourse, equal society,
peace and hope, to penance and mortification for ever.

The good sense of Colonel and Mrs. Campbell could not oppose such a
resolution, though their feelings did.  As long as they lived, no
exertions would be necessary, their home might be hers for ever; and
for their own comfort they would have retained her wholly; but this
would be selfishness:--what must be at last, had better be soon.
Perhaps they began to feel it might have been kinder and wiser to have
resisted the temptation of any delay, and spared her from a taste of
such enjoyments of ease and leisure as must now be relinquished.
Still, however, affection was glad to catch at any reasonable excuse
for not hurrying on the wretched moment.  She had never been quite well
since the time of their daughter's marriage; and till she should have
completely recovered her usual strength, they must forbid her engaging
in duties, which, so far from being compatible with a weakened frame
and varying spirits, seemed, under the most favourable circumstances,
to require something more than human perfection of body and mind to be
discharged with tolerable comfort.

With regard to her not accompanying them to Ireland, her account to her
aunt contained nothing but truth, though there might be some truths not
told.  It was her own choice to give the time of their absence to
Highbury; to spend, perhaps, her last months of perfect liberty with
those kind relations to whom she was so very dear: and the Campbells,
whatever might be their motive or motives, whether single, or double,
or treble, gave the arrangement their ready sanction, and said, that
they depended more on a few months spent in her native air, for the
recovery of her health, than on any thing else.  Certain it was that
she was to come; and that Highbury, instead of welcoming that perfect
novelty which had been so long promised it--Mr. Frank Churchill--must
put up for the present with Jane Fairfax, who could bring only the
freshness of a two years' absence.

Emma was sorry;--to have to pay civilities to a person she did not like
through three long months!--to be always doing more than she wished,
and less than she ought!  Why she did not like Jane Fairfax might be a
difficult question to answer; Mr. Knightley had once told her it was
because she saw in her the really accomplished young woman, which she
wanted to be thought herself; and though the accusation had been
eagerly refuted at the time, there were moments of self-examination in
which her conscience could not quite acquit her.  But "she could never
get acquainted with her: she did not know how it was, but there was
such coldness and reserve--such apparent indifference whether she
pleased or not--and then, her aunt was such an eternal talker!--and she
was made such a fuss with by every body!--and it had been always
imagined that they were to be so intimate--because their ages were the
same, every body had supposed they must be so fond of each other."
These were her reasons--she had no better.

It was a dislike so little just--every imputed fault was so magnified
by fancy, that she never saw Jane Fairfax the first time after any
considerable absence, without feeling that she had injured her; and
now, when the due visit was paid, on her arrival, after a two years'
interval, she was particularly struck with the very appearance and
manners, which for those two whole years she had been depreciating.
Jane Fairfax was very elegant, remarkably elegant; and she had herself
the highest value for elegance.  Her height was pretty, just such as
almost every body would think tall, and nobody could think very tall;
her figure particularly graceful; her size a most becoming medium,
between fat and thin, though a slight appearance of ill-health seemed
to point out the likeliest evil of the two.  Emma could not but feel
all this; and then, her face--her features--there was more beauty in
them altogether than she had remembered; it was not regular, but it was
very pleasing beauty.  Her eyes, a deep grey, with dark eye-lashes and
eyebrows, had never been denied their praise; but the skin, which she
had been used to cavil at, as wanting colour, had a clearness and
delicacy which really needed no fuller bloom.  It was a style of
beauty, of which elegance was the reigning character, and as such, she
must, in honour, by all her principles, admire it:--elegance, which,
whether of person or of mind, she saw so little in Highbury.  There,
not to be vulgar, was distinction, and merit.

In short, she sat, during the first visit, looking at Jane Fairfax with
twofold complacency; the sense of pleasure and the sense of rendering
justice, and was determining that she would dislike her no longer.
When she took in her history, indeed, her situation, as well as her
beauty; when she considered what all this elegance was destined to,
what she was going to sink from, how she was going to live, it seemed
impossible to feel any thing but compassion and respect; especially, if
to every well-known particular entitling her to interest, were added
the highly probable circumstance of an attachment to Mr. Dixon, which
she had so naturally started to herself.  In that case, nothing could
be more pitiable or more honourable than the sacrifices she had
resolved on.  Emma was very willing now to acquit her of having seduced
Mr. Dixon's actions from his wife, or of any thing mischievous which
her imagination had suggested at first.  If it were love, it might be
simple, single, successless love on her side alone.  She might have
been unconsciously sucking in the sad poison, while a sharer of his
conversation with her friend; and from the best, the purest of motives,
might now be denying herself this visit to Ireland, and resolving to
divide herself effectually from him and his connexions by soon
beginning her career of laborious duty.

Upon the whole, Emma left her with such softened, charitable feelings,
as made her look around in walking home, and lament that Highbury
afforded no young man worthy of giving her independence; nobody that
she could wish to scheme about for her.

These were charming feelings--but not lasting.  Before she had
committed herself by any public profession of eternal friendship for
Jane Fairfax, or done more towards a recantation of past prejudices and
errors, than saying to Mr. Knightley, "She certainly is handsome; she
is better than handsome!"  Jane had spent an evening at Hartfield with
her grandmother and aunt, and every thing was relapsing much into its
usual state.  Former provocations reappeared.  The aunt was as tiresome
as ever; more tiresome, because anxiety for her health was now added to
admiration of her powers; and they had to listen to the description of
exactly how little bread and butter she ate for breakfast, and how
small a slice of mutton for dinner, as well as to see exhibitions of
new caps and new workbags for her mother and herself; and Jane's
offences rose again.  They had music; Emma was obliged to play; and the
thanks and praise which necessarily followed appeared to her an
affectation of candour, an air of greatness, meaning only to shew off
in higher style her own very superior performance.  She was, besides,
which was the worst of all, so cold, so cautious!  There was no getting
at her real opinion.  Wrapt up in a cloak of politeness, she seemed
determined to hazard nothing.  She was disgustingly, was suspiciously
reserved.

If any thing could be more, where all was most, she was more reserved
on the subject of Weymouth and the Dixons than any thing.  She seemed
bent on giving no real insight into Mr. Dixon's character, or her own
value for his company, or opinion of the suitableness of the match.  It
was all general approbation and smoothness; nothing delineated or
distinguished.  It did her no service however.  Her caution was thrown
away.  Emma saw its artifice, and returned to her first surmises.
There probably _was_ something more to conceal than her own preference;
Mr. Dixon, perhaps, had been very near changing one friend for the
other, or been fixed only to Miss Campbell, for the sake of the future
twelve thousand pounds.

The like reserve prevailed on other topics.  She and Mr. Frank
Churchill had been at Weymouth at the same time.  It was known that
they were a little acquainted; but not a syllable of real information
could Emma procure as to what he truly was.  "Was he handsome?"--"She
believed he was reckoned a very fine young man."  "Was he agreeable?"--
"He was generally thought so."  "Did he appear a sensible young man; a
young man of information?"--"At a watering-place, or in a common London
acquaintance, it was difficult to decide on such points.  Manners were
all that could be safely judged of, under a much longer knowledge than
they had yet had of Mr. Churchill.  She believed every body found his
manners pleasing."  Emma could not forgive her.



CHAPTER III


Emma could not forgive her;--but as neither provocation nor resentment
were discerned by Mr. Knightley, who had been of the party, and had
seen only proper attention and pleasing behaviour on each side, he was
expressing the next morning, being at Hartfield again on business with
Mr. Woodhouse, his approbation of the whole; not so openly as he might
have done had her father been out of the room, but speaking plain
enough to be very intelligible to Emma.  He had been used to think her
unjust to Jane, and had now great pleasure in marking an improvement.

"A very pleasant evening," he began, as soon as Mr. Woodhouse had been
talked into what was necessary, told that he understood, and the papers
swept away;--"particularly pleasant.  You and Miss Fairfax gave us some
very good music.  I do not know a more luxurious state, sir, than
sitting at one's ease to be entertained a whole evening by two such
young women; sometimes with music and sometimes with conversation.  I
am sure Miss Fairfax must have found the evening pleasant, Emma.  You
left nothing undone.  I was glad you made her play so much, for having
no instrument at her grandmother's, it must have been a real
indulgence."

"I am happy you approved," said Emma, smiling; "but I hope I am not
often deficient in what is due to guests at Hartfield."

"No, my dear," said her father instantly; "_that_ I am sure you are
not.  There is nobody half so attentive and civil as you are.  If any
thing, you are too attentive.  The muffin last night--if it had been
handed round once, I think it would have been enough."

"No," said Mr. Knightley, nearly at the same time; "you are not often
deficient; not often deficient either in manner or comprehension.  I
think you understand me, therefore."

An arch look expressed--"I understand you well enough;" but she said
only, "Miss Fairfax is reserved."

"I always told you she was--a little; but you will soon overcome all
that part of her reserve which ought to be overcome, all that has its
foundation in diffidence.  What arises from discretion must be
honoured."

"You think her diffident.  I do not see it."

"My dear Emma," said he, moving from his chair into one close by her,
"you are not going to tell me, I hope, that you had not a pleasant
evening."

"Oh! no; I was pleased with my own perseverance in asking questions;
and amused to think how little information I obtained."

"I am disappointed," was his only answer.

"I hope every body had a pleasant evening," said Mr. Woodhouse, in his
quiet way.  "I had.  Once, I felt the fire rather too much; but then I
moved back my chair a little, a very little, and it did not disturb me.
Miss Bates was very chatty and good-humoured, as she always is, though
she speaks rather too quick.  However, she is very agreeable, and Mrs.
Bates too, in a different way.  I like old friends; and Miss Jane
Fairfax is a very pretty sort of young lady, a very pretty and a very
well-behaved young lady indeed.  She must have found the evening
agreeable, Mr. Knightley, because she had Emma."

"True, sir; and Emma, because she had Miss Fairfax."

Emma saw his anxiety, and wishing to appease it, at least for the
present, said, and with a sincerity which no one could question--

"She is a sort of elegant creature that one cannot keep one's eyes
from.  I am always watching her to admire; and I do pity her from my
heart."

Mr. Knightley looked as if he were more gratified than he cared to
express; and before he could make any reply, Mr. Woodhouse, whose
thoughts were on the Bates's, said--

"It is a great pity that their circumstances should be so confined!  a
great pity indeed! and I have often wished--but it is so little one can
venture to do--small, trifling presents, of any thing uncommon-- Now we
have killed a porker, and Emma thinks of sending them a loin or a leg;
it is very small and delicate--Hartfield pork is not like any other
pork--but still it is pork--and, my dear Emma, unless one could be sure
of their making it into steaks, nicely fried, as ours are fried,
without the smallest grease, and not roast it, for no stomach can bear
roast pork--I think we had better send the leg--do not you think so,
my dear?"

"My dear papa, I sent the whole hind-quarter. I knew you would wish it.
There will be the leg to be salted, you know, which is so very nice,
and the loin to be dressed directly in any manner they like."

"That's right, my dear, very right.  I had not thought of it before,
but that is the best way.  They must not over-salt the leg; and then,
if it is not over-salted, and if it is very thoroughly boiled, just as
Serle boils ours, and eaten very moderately of, with a boiled turnip,
and a little carrot or parsnip, I do not consider it unwholesome."

"Emma," said Mr. Knightley presently, "I have a piece of news for you.
You like news--and I heard an article in my way hither that I think
will interest you."

"News!  Oh! yes, I always like news.  What is it?--why do you smile
so?--where did you hear it?--at Randalls?"

He had time only to say,

"No, not at Randalls; I have not been near Randalls," when the door was
thrown open, and Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax walked into the room.
Full of thanks, and full of news, Miss Bates knew not which to give
quickest.  Mr. Knightley soon saw that he had lost his moment, and that
not another syllable of communication could rest with him.

"Oh! my dear sir, how are you this morning?  My dear Miss Woodhouse-- I
come quite over-powered. Such a beautiful hind-quarter of pork!  You
are too bountiful!  Have you heard the news?  Mr. Elton is going to be
married."

Emma had not had time even to think of Mr. Elton, and she was so
completely surprized that she could not avoid a little start, and a
little blush, at the sound.

"There is my news:--I thought it would interest you," said Mr.
Knightley, with a smile which implied a conviction of some part of what
had passed between them.

"But where could _you_ hear it?" cried Miss Bates.  "Where could you
possibly hear it, Mr. Knightley?  For it is not five minutes since I
received Mrs. Cole's note--no, it cannot be more than five--or at
least ten--for I had got my bonnet and spencer on, just ready to come
out--I was only gone down to speak to Patty again about the pork--Jane
was standing in the passage--were not you, Jane?--for my mother was so
afraid that we had not any salting-pan large enough.  So I said I would
go down and see, and Jane said, 'Shall I go down instead? for I think
you have a little cold, and Patty has been washing the kitchen.'--'Oh!
my dear,' said I--well, and just then came the note.  A Miss Hawkins--
that's all I know.  A Miss Hawkins of Bath.  But, Mr. Knightley, how
could you possibly have heard it? for the very moment Mr. Cole told
Mrs. Cole of it, she sat down and wrote to me.  A Miss Hawkins--"

"I was with Mr. Cole on business an hour and a half ago.  He had just
read Elton's letter as I was shewn in, and handed it to me directly."

"Well! that is quite--I suppose there never was a piece of news more
generally interesting.  My dear sir, you really are too bountiful.  My
mother desires her very best compliments and regards, and a thousand
thanks, and says you really quite oppress her."

"We consider our Hartfield pork," replied Mr. Woodhouse--"indeed it
certainly is, so very superior to all other pork, that Emma and I
cannot have a greater pleasure than--"

"Oh! my dear sir, as my mother says, our friends are only too good to
us.  If ever there were people who, without having great wealth
themselves, had every thing they could wish for, I am sure it is us.
We may well say that 'our lot is cast in a goodly heritage.' Well, Mr.
Knightley, and so you actually saw the letter; well--"

"It was short--merely to announce--but cheerful, exulting, of
course."-- Here was a sly glance at Emma.  "He had been so fortunate as
to--I forget the precise words--one has no business to remember them.
The information was, as you state, that he was going to be married to a
Miss Hawkins.  By his style, I should imagine it just settled."

"Mr. Elton going to be married!" said Emma, as soon as she could speak.
"He will have every body's wishes for his happiness."

"He is very young to settle," was Mr. Woodhouse's observation.  "He had
better not be in a hurry.  He seemed to me very well off as he was.  We
were always glad to see him at Hartfield."

"A new neighbour for us all, Miss Woodhouse!" said Miss Bates,
joyfully; "my mother is so pleased!--she says she cannot bear to have
the poor old Vicarage without a mistress.  This is great news, indeed.
Jane, you have never seen Mr. Elton!--no wonder that you have such a
curiosity to see him."

Jane's curiosity did not appear of that absorbing nature as wholly to
occupy her.

"No--I have never seen Mr. Elton," she replied, starting on this
appeal; "is he--is he a tall man?"

"Who shall answer that question?" cried Emma.  "My father would say
'yes,' Mr. Knightley 'no;' and Miss Bates and I that he is just the
happy medium.  When you have been here a little longer, Miss Fairfax,
you will understand that Mr. Elton is the standard of perfection in
Highbury, both in person and mind."

"Very true, Miss Woodhouse, so she will.  He is the very best young
man--But, my dear Jane, if you remember, I told you yesterday he was
precisely the height of Mr. Perry.  Miss Hawkins,--I dare say, an
excellent young woman.  His extreme attention to my mother--wanting
her to sit in the vicarage pew, that she might hear the better, for my
mother is a little deaf, you know--it is not much, but she does not
hear quite quick.  Jane says that Colonel Campbell is a little deaf.
He fancied bathing might be good for it--the warm bath--but she says
it did him no lasting benefit.  Colonel Campbell, you know, is quite
our angel.  And Mr. Dixon seems a very charming young man, quite worthy
of him.  It is such a happiness when good people get together--and they
always do.  Now, here will be Mr. Elton and Miss Hawkins; and there are
the Coles, such very good people; and the Perrys--I suppose there never
was a happier or a better couple than Mr. and Mrs. Perry.  I say, sir,"
turning to Mr. Woodhouse, "I think there are few places with such
society as Highbury.  I always say, we are quite blessed in our
neighbours.--My dear sir, if there is one thing my mother loves better
than another, it is pork--a roast loin of pork--"

"As to who, or what Miss Hawkins is, or how long he has been acquainted
with her," said Emma, "nothing I suppose can be known.  One feels that
it cannot be a very long acquaintance.  He has been gone only four
weeks."

Nobody had any information to give; and, after a few more wonderings,
Emma said,

"You are silent, Miss Fairfax--but I hope you mean to take an interest
in this news.  You, who have been hearing and seeing so much of late on
these subjects, who must have been so deep in the business on Miss
Campbell's account--we shall not excuse your being indifferent about
Mr. Elton and Miss Hawkins."

"When I have seen Mr. Elton," replied Jane, "I dare say I shall be
interested--but I believe it requires _that_ with me.  And as it is
some months since Miss Campbell married, the impression may be a little
worn off."

"Yes, he has been gone just four weeks, as you observe, Miss
Woodhouse," said Miss Bates, "four weeks yesterday.--A Miss
Hawkins!--Well, I had always rather fancied it would be some young lady
hereabouts; not that I ever--Mrs. Cole once whispered to me--but I
immediately said, 'No, Mr. Elton is a most worthy young man--but'--In
short, I do not think I am particularly quick at those sort of
discoveries.  I do not pretend to it.  What is before me, I see.  At
the same time, nobody could wonder if Mr. Elton should have
aspired--Miss Woodhouse lets me chatter on, so good-humouredly. She
knows I would not offend for the world.  How does Miss Smith do?  She
seems quite recovered now.  Have you heard from Mrs. John Knightley
lately?  Oh! those dear little children.  Jane, do you know I always
fancy Mr. Dixon like Mr. John Knightley.  I mean in person--tall, and
with that sort of look--and not very talkative."

"Quite wrong, my dear aunt; there is no likeness at all."

"Very odd! but one never does form a just idea of any body beforehand.
One takes up a notion, and runs away with it.  Mr. Dixon, you say, is
not, strictly speaking, handsome?"

"Handsome!  Oh! no--far from it--certainly plain.  I told you he was
plain."

"My dear, you said that Miss Campbell would not allow him to be plain,
and that you yourself--"

"Oh! as for me, my judgment is worth nothing.  Where I have a regard, I
always think a person well-looking. But I gave what I believed the
general opinion, when I called him plain."

"Well, my dear Jane, I believe we must be running away.  The weather
does not look well, and grandmama will be uneasy.  You are too
obliging, my dear Miss Woodhouse; but we really must take leave.  This
has been a most agreeable piece of news indeed.  I shall just go round
by Mrs. Cole's; but I shall not stop three minutes: and, Jane, you had
better go home directly--I would not have you out in a shower!--We
think she is the better for Highbury already.  Thank you, we do indeed.
I shall not attempt calling on Mrs. Goddard, for I really do not think
she cares for any thing but _boiled_ pork: when we dress the leg it
will be another thing.  Good morning to you, my dear sir.  Oh!  Mr.
Knightley is coming too.  Well, that is so very!--I am sure if Jane is
tired, you will be so kind as to give her your arm.--Mr. Elton, and
Miss Hawkins!--Good morning to you."

Emma, alone with her father, had half her attention wanted by him while
he lamented that young people would be in such a hurry to marry--and
to marry strangers too--and the other half she could give to her own
view of the subject.  It was to herself an amusing and a very welcome
piece of news, as proving that Mr. Elton could not have suffered long;
but she was sorry for Harriet: Harriet must feel it--and all that she
could hope was, by giving the first information herself, to save her
from hearing it abruptly from others.  It was now about the time that
she was likely to call.  If she were to meet Miss Bates in her
way!--and upon its beginning to rain, Emma was obliged to expect that
the weather would be detaining her at Mrs. Goddard's, and that the
intelligence would undoubtedly rush upon her without preparation.

The shower was heavy, but short; and it had not been over five minutes,
when in came Harriet, with just the heated, agitated look which
hurrying thither with a full heart was likely to give; and the "Oh!
Miss Woodhouse, what do you think has happened!" which instantly burst
forth, had all the evidence of corresponding perturbation.  As the blow
was given, Emma felt that she could not now shew greater kindness than
in listening; and Harriet, unchecked, ran eagerly through what she had
to tell.  "She had set out from Mrs. Goddard's half an hour ago--she
had been afraid it would rain--she had been afraid it would pour down
every moment--but she thought she might get to Hartfield first--she had
hurried on as fast as possible; but then, as she was passing by the
house where a young woman was making up a gown for her, she thought she
would just step in and see how it went on; and though she did not seem
to stay half a moment there, soon after she came out it began to rain,
and she did not know what to do; so she ran on directly, as fast as she
could, and took shelter at Ford's."--Ford's was the principal
woollen-draper, linen-draper, and haberdasher's shop united; the shop
first in size and fashion in the place.--"And so, there she had set,
without an idea of any thing in the world, full ten minutes,
perhaps--when, all of a sudden, who should come in--to be sure it was
so very odd!--but they always dealt at Ford's--who should come in, but
Elizabeth Martin and her brother!-- Dear Miss Woodhouse! only think.  I
thought I should have fainted.  I did not know what to do.  I was
sitting near the door--Elizabeth saw me directly; but he did not; he
was busy with the umbrella.  I am sure she saw me, but she looked away
directly, and took no notice; and they both went to quite the farther
end of the shop; and I kept sitting near the door!--Oh! dear; I was so
miserable!  I am sure I must have been as white as my gown.  I could
not go away you know, because of the rain; but I did so wish myself
anywhere in the world but there.--Oh! dear, Miss Woodhouse--well, at
last, I fancy, he looked round and saw me; for instead of going on with
her buyings, they began whispering to one another.  I am sure they were
talking of me; and I could not help thinking that he was persuading her
to speak to me--(do you think he was, Miss Woodhouse?)--for presently
she came forward--came quite up to me, and asked me how I did, and
seemed ready to shake hands, if I would.  She did not do any of it in
the same way that she used; I could see she was altered; but, however,
she seemed to _try_ to be very friendly, and we shook hands, and stood
talking some time; but I know no more what I said--I was in such a
tremble!--I remember she said she was sorry we never met now; which I
thought almost too kind!  Dear, Miss Woodhouse, I was absolutely
miserable!  By that time, it was beginning to hold up, and I was
determined that nothing should stop me from getting away--and
then--only think!-- I found he was coming up towards me too--slowly you
know, and as if he did not quite know what to do; and so he came and
spoke, and I answered--and I stood for a minute, feeling dreadfully,
you know, one can't tell how; and then I took courage, and said it did
not rain, and I must go; and so off I set; and I had not got three
yards from the door, when he came after me, only to say, if I was going
to Hartfield, he thought I had much better go round by Mr. Cole's
stables, for I should find the near way quite floated by this rain.
Oh! dear, I thought it would have been the death of me!  So I said, I
was very much obliged to him:  you know I could not do less; and then
he went back to Elizabeth, and I came round by the stables--I believe I
did--but I hardly knew where I was, or any thing about it.  Oh!  Miss
Woodhouse, I would rather done any thing than have it happen:  and yet,
you know, there was a sort of satisfaction in seeing him behave so
pleasantly and so kindly.  And Elizabeth, too.  Oh!  Miss Woodhouse, do
talk to me and make me comfortable again."

Very sincerely did Emma wish to do so; but it was not immediately in
her power.  She was obliged to stop and think.  She was not thoroughly
comfortable herself.  The young man's conduct, and his sister's, seemed
the result of real feeling, and she could not but pity them.  As
Harriet described it, there had been an interesting mixture of wounded
affection and genuine delicacy in their behaviour.  But she had
believed them to be well-meaning, worthy people before; and what
difference did this make in the evils of the connexion?  It was folly
to be disturbed by it.  Of course, he must be sorry to lose her--they
must be all sorry.  Ambition, as well as love, had probably been
mortified.  They might all have hoped to rise by Harriet's
acquaintance:  and besides, what was the value of Harriet's
description?--So easily pleased--so little discerning;--what signified
her praise?

She exerted herself, and did try to make her comfortable, by
considering all that had passed as a mere trifle, and quite unworthy of
being dwelt on,

"It might be distressing, for the moment," said she; "but you seem to
have behaved extremely well; and it is over--and may never--can never,
as a first meeting, occur again, and therefore you need not think about
it."

Harriet said, "very true," and she "would not think about it;" but
still she talked of it--still she could talk of nothing else; and Emma,
at last, in order to put the Martins out of her head, was obliged to
hurry on the news, which she had meant to give with so much tender
caution; hardly knowing herself whether to rejoice or be angry, ashamed
or only amused, at such a state of mind in poor Harriet--such a
conclusion of Mr. Elton's importance with her!

Mr. Elton's rights, however, gradually revived.  Though she did not
feel the first intelligence as she might have done the day before, or
an hour before, its interest soon increased; and before their first
conversation was over, she had talked herself into all the sensations
of curiosity, wonder and regret, pain and pleasure, as to this
fortunate Miss Hawkins, which could conduce to place the Martins under
proper subordination in her fancy.

Emma learned to be rather glad that there had been such a meeting.  It
had been serviceable in deadening the first shock, without retaining
any influence to alarm.  As Harriet now lived, the Martins could not
get at her, without seeking her, where hitherto they had wanted either
the courage or the condescension to seek her; for since her refusal of
the brother, the sisters never had been at Mrs. Goddard's; and a
twelvemonth might pass without their being thrown together again, with
any necessity, or even any power of speech.



CHAPTER IV


Human nature is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting
situations, that a young person, who either marries or dies, is sure of
being kindly spoken of.

A week had not passed since Miss Hawkins's name was first mentioned in
Highbury, before she was, by some means or other, discovered to have
every recommendation of person and mind; to be handsome, elegant,
highly accomplished, and perfectly amiable: and when Mr. Elton himself
arrived to triumph in his happy prospects, and circulate the fame of
her merits, there was very little more for him to do, than to tell her
Christian name, and say whose music she principally played.

Mr. Elton returned, a very happy man.  He had gone away rejected and
mortified--disappointed in a very sanguine hope, after a series of what
appeared to him strong encouragement; and not only losing the right
lady, but finding himself debased to the level of a very wrong one.  He
had gone away deeply offended--he came back engaged to another--and to
another as superior, of course, to the first, as under such
circumstances what is gained always is to what is lost.  He came back
gay and self-satisfied, eager and busy, caring nothing for Miss
Woodhouse, and defying Miss Smith.

The charming Augusta Hawkins, in addition to all the usual advantages
of perfect beauty and merit, was in possession of an independent
fortune, of so many thousands as would always be called ten; a point of
some dignity, as well as some convenience:  the story told well; he had
not thrown himself away--he had gained a woman of 10,000 l.  or
thereabouts; and he had gained her with such delightful rapidity--the
first hour of introduction had been so very soon followed by
distinguishing notice; the history which he had to give Mrs. Cole of
the rise and progress of the affair was so glorious--the steps so
quick, from the accidental rencontre, to the dinner at Mr. Green's, and
the party at Mrs. Brown's--smiles and blushes rising in importance--
with consciousness and agitation richly scattered--the lady had been so
easily impressed--so sweetly disposed--had in short, to use a most
intelligible phrase, been so very ready to have him, that vanity and
prudence were equally contented.

He had caught both substance and shadow--both fortune and affection,
and was just the happy man he ought to be; talking only of himself and
his own concerns--expecting to be congratulated--ready to be laughed
at--and, with cordial, fearless smiles, now addressing all the young
ladies of the place, to whom, a few weeks ago, he would have been more
cautiously gallant.

The wedding was no distant event, as the parties had only themselves to
please, and nothing but the necessary preparations to wait for; and
when he set out for Bath again, there was a general expectation, which
a certain glance of Mrs. Cole's did not seem to contradict, that when
he next entered Highbury he would bring his bride.

During his present short stay, Emma had barely seen him; but just
enough to feel that the first meeting was over, and to give her the
impression of his not being improved by the mixture of pique and
pretension, now spread over his air.  She was, in fact, beginning very
much to wonder that she had ever thought him pleasing at all; and his
sight was so inseparably connected with some very disagreeable
feelings, that, except in a moral light, as a penance, a lesson, a
source of profitable humiliation to her own mind, she would have been
thankful to be assured of never seeing him again.  She wished him very
well; but he gave her pain, and his welfare twenty miles off would
administer most satisfaction.

The pain of his continued residence in Highbury, however, must
certainly be lessened by his marriage.  Many vain solicitudes would be
prevented--many awkwardnesses smoothed by it.  A _Mrs._ _Elton_ would
be an excuse for any change of intercourse; former intimacy might sink
without remark.  It would be almost beginning their life of civility
again.

Of the lady, individually, Emma thought very little.  She was good
enough for Mr. Elton, no doubt; accomplished enough for Highbury--
handsome enough--to look plain, probably, by Harriet's side.  As to
connexion, there Emma was perfectly easy; persuaded, that after all his
own vaunted claims and disdain of Harriet, he had done nothing.  On
that article, truth seemed attainable.  _What_ she was, must be
uncertain; but _who_ she was, might be found out; and setting aside the
10,000 l., it did not appear that she was at all Harriet's superior.
She brought no name, no blood, no alliance.  Miss Hawkins was the
youngest of the two daughters of a Bristol--merchant, of course, he
must be called; but, as the whole of the profits of his mercantile life
appeared so very moderate, it was not unfair to guess the dignity of
his line of trade had been very moderate also.  Part of every winter
she had been used to spend in Bath; but Bristol was her home, the very
heart of Bristol; for though the father and mother had died some years
ago, an uncle remained--in the law line--nothing more distinctly
honourable was hazarded of him, than that he was in the law line; and
with him the daughter had lived.  Emma guessed him to be the drudge of
some attorney, and too stupid to rise.  And all the grandeur of the
connexion seemed dependent on the elder sister, who was _very_ _well_
_married_, to a gentleman in a _great_ _way_, near Bristol, who kept
two carriages!  That was the wind-up of the history; that was the glory
of Miss Hawkins.

Could she but have given Harriet her feelings about it all!  She had
talked her into love; but, alas! she was not so easily to be talked out
of it.  The charm of an object to occupy the many vacancies of
Harriet's mind was not to be talked away.  He might be superseded by
another; he certainly would indeed; nothing could be clearer; even a
Robert Martin would have been sufficient; but nothing else, she feared,
would cure her.  Harriet was one of those, who, having once begun,
would be always in love.  And now, poor girl!  she was considerably
worse from this reappearance of Mr. Elton.  She was always having a
glimpse of him somewhere or other.  Emma saw him only once; but two or
three times every day Harriet was sure _just_ to meet with him, or
_just_ to miss him, _just_ to hear his voice, or see his shoulder,
_just_ to have something occur to preserve him in her fancy, in all the
favouring warmth of surprize and conjecture.  She was, moreover,
perpetually hearing about him; for, excepting when at Hartfield, she
was always among those who saw no fault in Mr. Elton, and found nothing
so interesting as the discussion of his concerns; and every report,
therefore, every guess--all that had already occurred, all that might
occur in the arrangement of his affairs, comprehending income,
servants, and furniture, was continually in agitation around her.  Her
regard was receiving strength by invariable praise of him, and her
regrets kept alive, and feelings irritated by ceaseless repetitions of
Miss Hawkins's happiness, and continual observation of, how much he
seemed attached!--his air as he walked by the house--the very sitting
of his hat, being all in proof of how much he was in love!

Had it been allowable entertainment, had there been no pain to her
friend, or reproach to herself, in the waverings of Harriet's mind,
Emma would have been amused by its variations.  Sometimes Mr. Elton
predominated, sometimes the Martins; and each was occasionally useful
as a check to the other.  Mr. Elton's engagement had been the cure of
the agitation of meeting Mr. Martin.  The unhappiness produced by the
knowledge of that engagement had been a little put aside by Elizabeth
Martin's calling at Mrs. Goddard's a few days afterwards.  Harriet had
not been at home; but a note had been prepared and left for her,
written in the very style to touch; a small mixture of reproach, with a
great deal of kindness; and till Mr. Elton himself appeared, she had
been much occupied by it, continually pondering over what could be done
in return, and wishing to do more than she dared to confess.  But Mr.
Elton, in person, had driven away all such cares.  While he staid, the
Martins were forgotten; and on the very morning of his setting off for
Bath again, Emma, to dissipate some of the distress it occasioned,
judged it best for her to return Elizabeth Martin's visit.

How that visit was to be acknowledged--what would be necessary--and
what might be safest, had been a point of some doubtful consideration.
Absolute neglect of the mother and sisters, when invited to come, would
be ingratitude.  It must not be: and yet the danger of a renewal of the
acquaintance!--

After much thinking, she could determine on nothing better, than
Harriet's returning the visit; but in a way that, if they had
understanding, should convince them that it was to be only a formal
acquaintance.  She meant to take her in the carriage, leave her at the
Abbey Mill, while she drove a little farther, and call for her again so
soon, as to allow no time for insidious applications or dangerous
recurrences to the past, and give the most decided proof of what degree
of intimacy was chosen for the future.

She could think of nothing better:  and though there was something in
it which her own heart could not approve--something of ingratitude,
merely glossed over--it must be done, or what would become of Harriet?



CHAPTER V


Small heart had Harriet for visiting.  Only half an hour before her
friend called for her at Mrs. Goddard's, her evil stars had led her to
the very spot where, at that moment, a trunk, directed to _The Rev.
Philip Elton, White-Hart, Bath_, was to be seen under the operation of
being lifted into the butcher's cart, which was to convey it to where
the coaches past; and every thing in this world, excepting that trunk
and the direction, was consequently a blank.

She went, however; and when they reached the farm, and she was to be
put down, at the end of the broad, neat gravel walk, which led between
espalier apple-trees to the front door, the sight of every thing which
had given her so much pleasure the autumn before, was beginning to
revive a little local agitation; and when they parted, Emma observed
her to be looking around with a sort of fearful curiosity, which
determined her not to allow the visit to exceed the proposed quarter of
an hour.  She went on herself, to give that portion of time to an old
servant who was married, and settled in Donwell.

The quarter of an hour brought her punctually to the white gate again;
and Miss Smith receiving her summons, was with her without delay, and
unattended by any alarming young man.  She came solitarily down the
gravel walk--a Miss Martin just appearing at the door, and parting with
her seemingly with ceremonious civility.

Harriet could not very soon give an intelligible account.  She was
feeling too much; but at last Emma collected from her enough to
understand the sort of meeting, and the sort of pain it was creating.
She had seen only Mrs. Martin and the two girls.  They had received her
doubtingly, if not coolly; and nothing beyond the merest commonplace
had been talked almost all the time--till just at last, when Mrs.
Martin's saying, all of a sudden, that she thought Miss Smith was
grown, had brought on a more interesting subject, and a warmer manner.
In that very room she had been measured last September, with her two
friends.  There were the pencilled marks and memorandums on the
wainscot by the window.  _He_ had done it.  They all seemed to remember
the day, the hour, the party, the occasion--to feel the same
consciousness, the same regrets--to be ready to return to the same good
understanding; and they were just growing again like themselves,
(Harriet, as Emma must suspect, as ready as the best of them to be
cordial and happy,) when the carriage reappeared, and all was over.
The style of the visit, and the shortness of it, were then felt to be
decisive.  Fourteen minutes to be given to those with whom she had
thankfully passed six weeks not six months ago!--Emma could not but
picture it all, and feel how justly they might resent, how naturally
Harriet must suffer.  It was a bad business.  She would have given a
great deal, or endured a great deal, to have had the Martins in a
higher rank of life.  They were so deserving, that a _little_ higher
should have been enough:  but as it was, how could she have done
otherwise?--Impossible!--She could not repent.  They must be separated;
but there was a great deal of pain in the process--so much to herself
at this time, that she soon felt the necessity of a little consolation,
and resolved on going home by way of Randalls to procure it.  Her mind
was quite sick of Mr. Elton and the Martins.  The refreshment of
Randalls was absolutely necessary.

It was a good scheme; but on driving to the door they heard that
neither "master nor mistress was at home;" they had both been out some
time; the man believed they were gone to Hartfield.

"This is too bad," cried Emma, as they turned away.  "And now we shall
just miss them; too provoking!--I do not know when I have been so
disappointed."  And she leaned back in the corner, to indulge her
murmurs, or to reason them away; probably a little of both--such being
the commonest process of a not ill-disposed mind.  Presently the
carriage stopt; she looked up; it was stopt by Mr. and Mrs. Weston, who
were standing to speak to her.  There was instant pleasure in the sight
of them, and still greater pleasure was conveyed in sound--for Mr.
Weston immediately accosted her with,

"How d'ye do?--how d'ye do?--We have been sitting with your father--
glad to see him so well.  Frank comes to-morrow--I had a letter this
morning--we see him to-morrow by dinner-time to a certainty--he is at
Oxford to-day, and he comes for a whole fortnight; I knew it would be
so.  If he had come at Christmas he could not have staid three days; I
was always glad he did not come at Christmas; now we are going to have
just the right weather for him, fine, dry, settled weather.  We shall
enjoy him completely; every thing has turned out exactly as we could
wish."

There was no resisting such news, no possibility of avoiding the
influence of such a happy face as Mr. Weston's, confirmed as it all was
by the words and the countenance of his wife, fewer and quieter, but
not less to the purpose.  To know that _she_ thought his coming certain
was enough to make Emma consider it so, and sincerely did she rejoice
in their joy.  It was a most delightful reanimation of exhausted
spirits.  The worn-out past was sunk in the freshness of what was
coming; and in the rapidity of half a moment's thought, she hoped Mr.
Elton would now be talked of no more.

Mr. Weston gave her the history of the engagements at Enscombe, which
allowed his son to answer for having an entire fortnight at his
command, as well as the route and the method of his journey; and she
listened, and smiled, and congratulated.

"I shall soon bring him over to Hartfield," said he, at the conclusion.

Emma could imagine she saw a touch of the arm at this speech, from his
wife.

"We had better move on, Mr. Weston," said she, "we are detaining the
girls."

"Well, well, I am ready;"--and turning again to Emma, "but you must not
be expecting such a _very_ fine young man; you have only had _my_
account you know; I dare say he is really nothing extraordinary:"--though
his own sparkling eyes at the moment were speaking a very
different conviction.

Emma could look perfectly unconscious and innocent, and answer in a
manner that appropriated nothing.

"Think of me to-morrow, my dear Emma, about four o'clock," was Mrs.
Weston's parting injunction; spoken with some anxiety, and meant only
for her.

"Four o'clock!--depend upon it he will be here by three," was Mr.
Weston's quick amendment; and so ended a most satisfactory meeting.
Emma's spirits were mounted quite up to happiness; every thing wore a
different air; James and his horses seemed not half so sluggish as
before.  When she looked at the hedges, she thought the elder at least
must soon be coming out; and when she turned round to Harriet, she saw
something like a look of spring, a tender smile even there.

"Will Mr. Frank Churchill pass through Bath as well as Oxford?"--was a
question, however, which did not augur much.

But neither geography nor tranquillity could come all at once, and Emma
was now in a humour to resolve that they should both come in time.

The morning of the interesting day arrived, and Mrs. Weston's faithful
pupil did not forget either at ten, or eleven, or twelve o'clock, that
she was to think of her at four.

"My dear, dear anxious friend,"--said she, in mental soliloquy, while
walking downstairs from her own room, "always overcareful for every
body's comfort but your own; I see you now in all your little fidgets,
going again and again into his room, to be sure that all is right."
The clock struck twelve as she passed through the hall.  "'Tis twelve;
I shall not forget to think of you four hours hence; and by this time
to-morrow, perhaps, or a little later, I may be thinking of the
possibility of their all calling here.  I am sure they will bring him
soon."

She opened the parlour door, and saw two gentlemen sitting with her
father--Mr. Weston and his son.  They had been arrived only a few
minutes, and Mr. Weston had scarcely finished his explanation of
Frank's being a day before his time, and her father was yet in the
midst of his very civil welcome and congratulations, when she appeared,
to have her share of surprize, introduction, and pleasure.

The Frank Churchill so long talked of, so high in interest, was
actually before her--he was presented to her, and she did not think too
much had been said in his praise; he was a _very_ good looking young
man; height, air, address, all were unexceptionable, and his
countenance had a great deal of the spirit and liveliness of his
father's; he looked quick and sensible.  She felt immediately that she
should like him; and there was a well-bred ease of manner, and a
readiness to talk, which convinced her that he came intending to be
acquainted with her, and that acquainted they soon must be.

He had reached Randalls the evening before.  She was pleased with the
eagerness to arrive which had made him alter his plan, and travel
earlier, later, and quicker, that he might gain half a day.

"I told you yesterday," cried Mr. Weston with exultation, "I told you
all that he would be here before the time named.  I remembered what I
used to do myself.  One cannot creep upon a journey; one cannot help
getting on faster than one has planned; and the pleasure of coming in
upon one's friends before the look-out begins, is worth a great deal
more than any little exertion it needs."

"It is a great pleasure where one can indulge in it," said the young
man, "though there are not many houses that I should presume on so far;
but in coming _home_ I felt I might do any thing."

The word _home_ made his father look on him with fresh complacency.
Emma was directly sure that he knew how to make himself agreeable; the
conviction was strengthened by what followed.  He was very much pleased
with Randalls, thought it a most admirably arranged house, would hardly
allow it even to be very small, admired the situation, the walk to
Highbury, Highbury itself, Hartfield still more, and professed himself
to have always felt the sort of interest in the country which none but
one's _own_ country gives, and the greatest curiosity to visit it.
That he should never have been able to indulge so amiable a feeling
before, passed suspiciously through Emma's brain; but still, if it were
a falsehood, it was a pleasant one, and pleasantly handled.  His manner
had no air of study or exaggeration.  He did really look and speak as
if in a state of no common enjoyment.

Their subjects in general were such as belong to an opening
acquaintance.  On his side were the inquiries,--"Was she a
horsewoman?--Pleasant rides?--Pleasant walks?--Had they a large
neighbourhood?--Highbury, perhaps, afforded society enough?--There were
several very pretty houses in and about it.--Balls--had they
balls?--Was it a musical society?"

But when satisfied on all these points, and their acquaintance
proportionably advanced, he contrived to find an opportunity, while
their two fathers were engaged with each other, of introducing his
mother-in-law, and speaking of her with so much handsome praise, so
much warm admiration, so much gratitude for the happiness she secured
to his father, and her very kind reception of himself, as was an
additional proof of his knowing how to please--and of his certainly
thinking it worth while to try to please her.  He did not advance a
word of praise beyond what she knew to be thoroughly deserved by Mrs.
Weston; but, undoubtedly he could know very little of the matter.  He
understood what would be welcome; he could be sure of little else.
"His father's marriage," he said, "had been the wisest measure, every
friend must rejoice in it; and the family from whom he had received
such a blessing must be ever considered as having conferred the highest
obligation on him."

He got as near as he could to thanking her for Miss Taylor's merits,
without seeming quite to forget that in the common course of things it
was to be rather supposed that Miss Taylor had formed Miss Woodhouse's
character, than Miss Woodhouse Miss Taylor's. And at last, as if
resolved to qualify his opinion completely for travelling round to its
object, he wound it all up with astonishment at the youth and beauty of
her person.

"Elegant, agreeable manners, I was prepared for," said he; "but I
confess that, considering every thing, I had not expected more than a
very tolerably well-looking woman of a certain age; I did not know that
I was to find a pretty young woman in Mrs. Weston."

"You cannot see too much perfection in Mrs. Weston for my feelings,"
said Emma; "were you to guess her to be _eighteen_, I should listen
with pleasure; but _she_ would be ready to quarrel with you for using
such words.  Don't let her imagine that you have spoken of her as a
pretty young woman."

"I hope I should know better," he replied; "no, depend upon it, (with a
gallant bow,) that in addressing Mrs. Weston I should understand whom I
might praise without any danger of being thought extravagant in my
terms."

Emma wondered whether the same suspicion of what might be expected from
their knowing each other, which had taken strong possession of her
mind, had ever crossed his; and whether his compliments were to be
considered as marks of acquiescence, or proofs of defiance.  She must
see more of him to understand his ways; at present she only felt they
were agreeable.

She had no doubt of what Mr. Weston was often thinking about.  His
quick eye she detected again and again glancing towards them with a
happy expression; and even, when he might have determined not to look,
she was confident that he was often listening.

Her own father's perfect exemption from any thought of the kind, the
entire deficiency in him of all such sort of penetration or suspicion,
was a most comfortable circumstance.  Happily he was not farther from
approving matrimony than from foreseeing it.-- Though always objecting
to every marriage that was arranged, he never suffered beforehand from
the apprehension of any; it seemed as if he could not think so ill of
any two persons' understanding as to suppose they meant to marry till
it were proved against them.  She blessed the favouring blindness.  He
could now, without the drawback of a single unpleasant surmise, without
a glance forward at any possible treachery in his guest, give way to
all his natural kind-hearted civility in solicitous inquiries after Mr.
Frank Churchill's accommodation on his journey, through the sad evils
of sleeping two nights on the road, and express very genuine unmixed
anxiety to know that he had certainly escaped catching cold--which,
however, he could not allow him to feel quite assured of himself till
after another night.

A reasonable visit paid, Mr. Weston began to move.--"He must be going.
He had business at the Crown about his hay, and a great many errands
for Mrs. Weston at Ford's, but he need not hurry any body else." His
son, too well bred to hear the hint, rose immediately also, saying,

"As you are going farther on business, sir, I will take the opportunity
of paying a visit, which must be paid some day or other, and therefore
may as well be paid now.  I have the honour of being acquainted with a
neighbour of yours, (turning to Emma,) a lady residing in or near
Highbury; a family of the name of Fairfax.  I shall have no difficulty,
I suppose, in finding the house; though Fairfax, I believe, is not the
proper name--I should rather say Barnes, or Bates.  Do you know any
family of that name?"

"To be sure we do," cried his father; "Mrs. Bates--we passed her
house--I saw Miss Bates at the window.  True, true, you are acquainted
with Miss Fairfax; I remember you knew her at Weymouth, and a fine girl
she is.  Call upon her, by all means."

"There is no necessity for my calling this morning," said the young
man; "another day would do as well; but there was that degree of
acquaintance at Weymouth which--"

"Oh! go to-day, go to-day. Do not defer it.  What is right to be done
cannot be done too soon.  And, besides, I must give you a hint, Frank;
any want of attention to her _here_ should be carefully avoided.  You
saw her with the Campbells, when she was the equal of every body she
mixed with, but here she is with a poor old grandmother, who has barely
enough to live on.  If you do not call early it will be a slight."

The son looked convinced.

"I have heard her speak of the acquaintance," said Emma; "she is a very
elegant young woman."

He agreed to it, but with so quiet a "Yes," as inclined her almost to
doubt his real concurrence; and yet there must be a very distinct sort
of elegance for the fashionable world, if Jane Fairfax could be thought
only ordinarily gifted with it.

"If you were never particularly struck by her manners before," said
she, "I think you will to-day. You will see her to advantage; see her
and hear her--no, I am afraid you will not hear her at all, for she has
an aunt who never holds her tongue."

"You are acquainted with Miss Jane Fairfax, sir, are you?" said Mr.
Woodhouse, always the last to make his way in conversation; "then give
me leave to assure you that you will find her a very agreeable young
lady.  She is staying here on a visit to her grandmama and aunt, very
worthy people; I have known them all my life.  They will be extremely
glad to see you, I am sure; and one of my servants shall go with you to
shew you the way."

"My dear sir, upon no account in the world; my father can direct me."

"But your father is not going so far; he is only going to the Crown,
quite on the other side of the street, and there are a great many
houses; you might be very much at a loss, and it is a very dirty walk,
unless you keep on the footpath; but my coachman can tell you where you
had best cross the street."

Mr. Frank Churchill still declined it, looking as serious as he could,
and his father gave his hearty support by calling out, "My good friend,
this is quite unnecessary; Frank knows a puddle of water when he sees
it, and as to Mrs. Bates's, he may get there from the Crown in a hop,
step, and jump."

They were permitted to go alone; and with a cordial nod from one, and a
graceful bow from the other, the two gentlemen took leave.  Emma
remained very well pleased with this beginning of the acquaintance, and
could now engage to think of them all at Randalls any hour of the day,
with full confidence in their comfort.



CHAPTER VI


The next morning brought Mr. Frank Churchill again.  He came with Mrs.
Weston, to whom and to Highbury he seemed to take very cordially.  He
had been sitting with her, it appeared, most companionably at home,
till her usual hour of exercise; and on being desired to chuse their
walk, immediately fixed on Highbury.--"He did not doubt there being
very pleasant walks in every direction, but if left to him, he should
always chuse the same.  Highbury, that airy, cheerful, happy-looking
Highbury, would be his constant attraction."-- Highbury, with Mrs.
Weston, stood for Hartfield; and she trusted to its bearing the same
construction with him.  They walked thither directly.

Emma had hardly expected them:  for Mr. Weston, who had called in for
half a minute, in order to hear that his son was very handsome, knew
nothing of their plans; and it was an agreeable surprize to her,
therefore, to perceive them walking up to the house together, arm in
arm.  She was wanting to see him again, and especially to see him in
company with Mrs. Weston, upon his behaviour to whom her opinion of him
was to depend.  If he were deficient there, nothing should make amends
for it.  But on seeing them together, she became perfectly satisfied.
It was not merely in fine words or hyperbolical compliment that he paid
his duty; nothing could be more proper or pleasing than his whole
manner to her--nothing could more agreeably denote his wish of
considering her as a friend and securing her affection.  And there was
time enough for Emma to form a reasonable judgment, as their visit
included all the rest of the morning.  They were all three walking
about together for an hour or two--first round the shrubberies of
Hartfield, and afterwards in Highbury.  He was delighted with every
thing; admired Hartfield sufficiently for Mr. Woodhouse's ear; and when
their going farther was resolved on, confessed his wish to be made
acquainted with the whole village, and found matter of commendation and
interest much oftener than Emma could have supposed.

Some of the objects of his curiosity spoke very amiable feelings.  He
begged to be shewn the house which his father had lived in so long, and
which had been the home of his father's father; and on recollecting
that an old woman who had nursed him was still living, walked in quest
of her cottage from one end of the street to the other; and though in
some points of pursuit or observation there was no positive merit, they
shewed, altogether, a good-will towards Highbury in general, which must
be very like a merit to those he was with.

Emma watched and decided, that with such feelings as were now shewn, it
could not be fairly supposed that he had been ever voluntarily
absenting himself; that he had not been acting a part, or making a
parade of insincere professions; and that Mr. Knightley certainly had
not done him justice.

Their first pause was at the Crown Inn, an inconsiderable house, though
the principal one of the sort, where a couple of pair of post-horses
were kept, more for the convenience of the neighbourhood than from any
run on the road; and his companions had not expected to be detained by
any interest excited there; but in passing it they gave the history of
the large room visibly added; it had been built many years ago for a
ball-room, and while the neighbourhood had been in a particularly
populous, dancing state, had been occasionally used as such;--but such
brilliant days had long passed away, and now the highest purpose for
which it was ever wanted was to accommodate a whist club established
among the gentlemen and half-gentlemen of the place.  He was
immediately interested.  Its character as a ball-room caught him; and
instead of passing on, he stopt for several minutes at the two superior
sashed windows which were open, to look in and contemplate its
capabilities, and lament that its original purpose should have ceased.
He saw no fault in the room, he would acknowledge none which they
suggested.  No, it was long enough, broad enough, handsome enough.  It
would hold the very number for comfort.  They ought to have balls there
at least every fortnight through the winter.  Why had not Miss
Woodhouse revived the former good old days of the room?--She who could
do any thing in Highbury!  The want of proper families in the place,
and the conviction that none beyond the place and its immediate
environs could be tempted to attend, were mentioned; but he was not
satisfied.  He could not be persuaded that so many good-looking houses
as he saw around him, could not furnish numbers enough for such a
meeting; and even when particulars were given and families described,
he was still unwilling to admit that the inconvenience of such a
mixture would be any thing, or that there would be the smallest
difficulty in every body's returning into their proper place the next
morning.  He argued like a young man very much bent on dancing; and
Emma was rather surprized to see the constitution of the Weston prevail
so decidedly against the habits of the Churchills.  He seemed to have
all the life and spirit, cheerful feelings, and social inclinations of
his father, and nothing of the pride or reserve of Enscombe.  Of pride,
indeed, there was, perhaps, scarcely enough; his indifference to a
confusion of rank, bordered too much on inelegance of mind.  He could
be no judge, however, of the evil he was holding cheap.  It was but an
effusion of lively spirits.

At last he was persuaded to move on from the front of the Crown; and
being now almost facing the house where the Bateses lodged, Emma
recollected his intended visit the day before, and asked him if he had
paid it.

"Yes, oh! yes"--he replied; "I was just going to mention it.  A very
successful visit:--I saw all the three ladies; and felt very much
obliged to you for your preparatory hint.  If the talking aunt had
taken me quite by surprize, it must have been the death of me.  As it
was, I was only betrayed into paying a most unreasonable visit.  Ten
minutes would have been all that was necessary, perhaps all that was
proper; and I had told my father I should certainly be at home before
him--but there was no getting away, no pause; and, to my utter
astonishment, I found, when he (finding me nowhere else) joined me
there at last, that I had been actually sitting with them very nearly
three-quarters of an hour.  The good lady had not given me the
possibility of escape before."

"And how did you think Miss Fairfax looking?"

"Ill, very ill--that is, if a young lady can ever be allowed to look
ill.  But the expression is hardly admissible, Mrs. Weston, is it?
Ladies can never look ill.  And, seriously, Miss Fairfax is naturally
so pale, as almost always to give the appearance of ill health.-- A
most deplorable want of complexion."

Emma would not agree to this, and began a warm defence of Miss
Fairfax's complexion.  "It was certainly never brilliant, but she would
not allow it to have a sickly hue in general; and there was a softness
and delicacy in her skin which gave peculiar elegance to the character
of her face."  He listened with all due deference; acknowledged that he
had heard many people say the same--but yet he must confess, that to
him nothing could make amends for the want of the fine glow of health.
Where features were indifferent, a fine complexion gave beauty to them
all; and where they were good, the effect was--fortunately he need not
attempt to describe what the effect was.

"Well," said Emma, "there is no disputing about taste.--At least you
admire her except her complexion."

He shook his head and laughed.--"I cannot separate Miss Fairfax and her
complexion."

"Did you see her often at Weymouth?  Were you often in the same
society?"

At this moment they were approaching Ford's, and he hastily exclaimed,
"Ha! this must be the very shop that every body attends every day of
their lives, as my father informs me.  He comes to Highbury himself, he
says, six days out of the seven, and has always business at Ford's.  If
it be not inconvenient to you, pray let us go in, that I may prove
myself to belong to the place, to be a true citizen of Highbury.  I
must buy something at Ford's. It will be taking out my freedom.-- I
dare say they sell gloves."

"Oh! yes, gloves and every thing.  I do admire your patriotism.  You
will be adored in Highbury.  You were very popular before you came,
because you were Mr. Weston's son--but lay out half a guinea at Ford's,
and your popularity will stand upon your own virtues."

They went in; and while the sleek, well-tied parcels of "Men's Beavers"
and "York Tan" were bringing down and displaying on the counter, he
said--"But I beg your pardon, Miss Woodhouse, you were speaking to me,
you were saying something at the very moment of this burst of my _amor_
_patriae_.  Do not let me lose it.  I assure you the utmost stretch of
public fame would not make me amends for the loss of any happiness in
private life."

"I merely asked, whether you had known much of Miss Fairfax and her
party at Weymouth."

"And now that I understand your question, I must pronounce it to be a
very unfair one.  It is always the lady's right to decide on the degree
of acquaintance.  Miss Fairfax must already have given her account.-- I
shall not commit myself by claiming more than she may chuse to allow."

"Upon my word! you answer as discreetly as she could do herself.  But
her account of every thing leaves so much to be guessed, she is so very
reserved, so very unwilling to give the least information about any
body, that I really think you may say what you like of your
acquaintance with her."

"May I, indeed?--Then I will speak the truth, and nothing suits me so
well.  I met her frequently at Weymouth.  I had known the Campbells a
little in town; and at Weymouth we were very much in the same set.
Colonel Campbell is a very agreeable man, and Mrs. Campbell a friendly,
warm-hearted woman.  I like them all."

"You know Miss Fairfax's situation in life, I conclude; what she is
destined to be?"

"Yes--(rather hesitatingly)--I believe I do."

"You get upon delicate subjects, Emma," said Mrs. Weston smiling;
"remember that I am here.--Mr. Frank Churchill hardly knows what to say
when you speak of Miss Fairfax's situation in life.  I will move a
little farther off."

"I certainly do forget to think of _her_," said Emma, "as having ever
been any thing but my friend and my dearest friend."

He looked as if he fully understood and honoured such a sentiment.

When the gloves were bought, and they had quitted the shop again, "Did
you ever hear the young lady we were speaking of, play?" said Frank
Churchill.

"Ever hear her!" repeated Emma.  "You forget how much she belongs to
Highbury.  I have heard her every year of our lives since we both
began.  She plays charmingly."

"You think so, do you?--I wanted the opinion of some one who could
really judge.  She appeared to me to play well, that is, with
considerable taste, but I know nothing of the matter myself.-- I am
excessively fond of music, but without the smallest skill or right of
judging of any body's performance.--I have been used to hear her's
admired; and I remember one proof of her being thought to play well:--a
man, a very musical man, and in love with another woman--engaged to
her--on the point of marriage--would yet never ask that other woman to
sit down to the instrument, if the lady in question could sit down
instead--never seemed to like to hear one if he could hear the other.
That, I thought, in a man of known musical talent, was some proof."

"Proof indeed!" said Emma, highly amused.--"Mr. Dixon is very musical,
is he?  We shall know more about them all, in half an hour, from you,
than Miss Fairfax would have vouchsafed in half a year."

"Yes, Mr. Dixon and Miss Campbell were the persons; and I thought it a
very strong proof."

"Certainly--very strong it was; to own the truth, a great deal stronger
than, if _I_ had been Miss Campbell, would have been at all agreeable
to me.  I could not excuse a man's having more music than love--more
ear than eye--a more acute sensibility to fine sounds than to my
feelings.  How did Miss Campbell appear to like it?"

"It was her very particular friend, you know."

"Poor comfort!" said Emma, laughing.  "One would rather have a stranger
preferred than one's very particular friend--with a stranger it might
not recur again--but the misery of having a very particular friend
always at hand, to do every thing better than one does oneself!-- Poor
Mrs. Dixon!  Well, I am glad she is gone to settle in Ireland."

"You are right.  It was not very flattering to Miss Campbell; but she
really did not seem to feel it."

"So much the better--or so much the worse:--I do not know which.  But
be it sweetness or be it stupidity in her--quickness of friendship, or
dulness of feeling--there was one person, I think, who must have felt
it:  Miss Fairfax herself.  She must have felt the improper and
dangerous distinction."

"As to that--I do not--"

"Oh! do not imagine that I expect an account of Miss Fairfax's
sensations from you, or from any body else.  They are known to no human
being, I guess, but herself.  But if she continued to play whenever she
was asked by Mr. Dixon, one may guess what one chuses."

"There appeared such a perfectly good understanding among them all--"
he began rather quickly, but checking himself, added, "however, it is
impossible for me to say on what terms they really were--how it might
all be behind the scenes.  I can only say that there was smoothness
outwardly.  But you, who have known Miss Fairfax from a child, must be
a better judge of her character, and of how she is likely to conduct
herself in critical situations, than I can be."

"I have known her from a child, undoubtedly; we have been children and
women together; and it is natural to suppose that we should be
intimate,--that we should have taken to each other whenever she visited
her friends.  But we never did.  I hardly know how it has happened; a
little, perhaps, from that wickedness on my side which was prone to
take disgust towards a girl so idolized and so cried up as she always
was, by her aunt and grandmother, and all their set.  And then, her
reserve--I never could attach myself to any one so completely reserved."

"It is a most repulsive quality, indeed," said he.  "Oftentimes very
convenient, no doubt, but never pleasing.  There is safety in reserve,
but no attraction.  One cannot love a reserved person."

"Not till the reserve ceases towards oneself; and then the attraction
may be the greater.  But I must be more in want of a friend, or an
agreeable companion, than I have yet been, to take the trouble of
conquering any body's reserve to procure one.  Intimacy between Miss
Fairfax and me is quite out of the question.  I have no reason to think
ill of her--not the least--except that such extreme and perpetual
cautiousness of word and manner, such a dread of giving a distinct idea
about any body, is apt to suggest suspicions of there being something
to conceal."

He perfectly agreed with her:  and after walking together so long, and
thinking so much alike, Emma felt herself so well acquainted with him,
that she could hardly believe it to be only their second meeting.  He
was not exactly what she had expected; less of the man of the world in
some of his notions, less of the spoiled child of fortune, therefore
better than she had expected.  His ideas seemed more moderate--his
feelings warmer.  She was particularly struck by his manner of
considering Mr. Elton's house, which, as well as the church, he would
go and look at, and would not join them in finding much fault with.
No, he could not believe it a bad house; not such a house as a man was
to be pitied for having.  If it were to be shared with the woman he
loved, he could not think any man to be pitied for having that house.
There must be ample room in it for every real comfort.  The man must be
a blockhead who wanted more.

Mrs. Weston laughed, and said he did not know what he was talking
about.  Used only to a large house himself, and without ever thinking
how many advantages and accommodations were attached to its size, he
could be no judge of the privations inevitably belonging to a small
one.  But Emma, in her own mind, determined that he _did_ know what he
was talking about, and that he shewed a very amiable inclination to
settle early in life, and to marry, from worthy motives.  He might not
be aware of the inroads on domestic peace to be occasioned by no
housekeeper's room, or a bad butler's pantry, but no doubt he did
perfectly feel that Enscombe could not make him happy, and that
whenever he were attached, he would willingly give up much of wealth to
be allowed an early establishment.



CHAPTER VII


Emma's very good opinion of Frank Churchill was a little shaken the
following day, by hearing that he was gone off to London, merely to
have his hair cut.  A sudden freak seemed to have seized him at
breakfast, and he had sent for a chaise and set off, intending to
return to dinner, but with no more important view that appeared than
having his hair cut.  There was certainly no harm in his travelling
sixteen miles twice over on such an errand; but there was an air of
foppery and nonsense in it which she could not approve.  It did not
accord with the rationality of plan, the moderation in expense, or even
the unselfish warmth of heart, which she had believed herself to
discern in him yesterday.  Vanity, extravagance, love of change,
restlessness of temper, which must be doing something, good or bad;
heedlessness as to the pleasure of his father and Mrs. Weston,
indifferent as to how his conduct might appear in general; he became
liable to all these charges.  His father only called him a coxcomb, and
thought it a very good story; but that Mrs. Weston did not like it, was
clear enough, by her passing it over as quickly as possible, and making
no other comment than that "all young people would have their little
whims."

With the exception of this little blot, Emma found that his visit
hitherto had given her friend only good ideas of him.  Mrs. Weston was
very ready to say how attentive and pleasant a companion he made
himself--how much she saw to like in his disposition altogether.  He
appeared to have a very open temper--certainly a very cheerful and
lively one; she could observe nothing wrong in his notions, a great
deal decidedly right; he spoke of his uncle with warm regard, was fond
of talking of him--said he would be the best man in the world if he
were left to himself; and though there was no being attached to the
aunt, he acknowledged her kindness with gratitude, and seemed to mean
always to speak of her with respect.  This was all very promising; and,
but for such an unfortunate fancy for having his hair cut, there was
nothing to denote him unworthy of the distinguished honour which her
imagination had given him; the honour, if not of being really in love
with her, of being at least very near it, and saved only by her own
indifference--(for still her resolution held of never marrying)--the
honour, in short, of being marked out for her by all their joint
acquaintance.

Mr. Weston, on his side, added a virtue to the account which must have
some weight.  He gave her to understand that Frank admired her
extremely--thought her very beautiful and very charming; and with so
much to be said for him altogether, she found she must not judge him
harshly.  As Mrs. Weston observed, "all young people would have their
little whims."

There was one person among his new acquaintance in Surry, not so
leniently disposed.  In general he was judged, throughout the parishes
of Donwell and Highbury, with great candour; liberal allowances were
made for the little excesses of such a handsome young man--one who
smiled so often and bowed so well; but there was one spirit among them
not to be softened, from its power of censure, by bows or smiles--Mr.
Knightley.  The circumstance was told him at Hartfield; for the moment,
he was silent; but Emma heard him almost immediately afterwards say to
himself, over a newspaper he held in his hand, "Hum! just the trifling,
silly fellow I took him for."  She had half a mind to resent; but an
instant's observation convinced her that it was really said only to
relieve his own feelings, and not meant to provoke; and therefore she
let it pass.

Although in one instance the bearers of not good tidings, Mr. and Mrs.
Weston's visit this morning was in another respect particularly
opportune.  Something occurred while they were at Hartfield, to make
Emma want their advice; and, which was still more lucky, she wanted
exactly the advice they gave.

This was the occurrence:--The Coles had been settled some years in
Highbury, and were very good sort of people--friendly, liberal, and
unpretending; but, on the other hand, they were of low origin, in
trade, and only moderately genteel.  On their first coming into the
country, they had lived in proportion to their income, quietly, keeping
little company, and that little unexpensively; but the last year or two
had brought them a considerable increase of means--the house in town
had yielded greater profits, and fortune in general had smiled on them.
With their wealth, their views increased; their want of a larger house,
their inclination for more company.  They added to their house, to
their number of servants, to their expenses of every sort; and by this
time were, in fortune and style of living, second only to the family at
Hartfield.  Their love of society, and their new dining-room, prepared
every body for their keeping dinner-company; and a few parties, chiefly
among the single men, had already taken place.  The regular and best
families Emma could hardly suppose they would presume to invite--
neither Donwell, nor Hartfield, nor Randalls.  Nothing should tempt
_her_ to go, if they did; and she regretted that her father's known
habits would be giving her refusal less meaning than she could wish.
The Coles were very respectable in their way, but they ought to be
taught that it was not for them to arrange the terms on which the
superior families would visit them.  This lesson, she very much feared,
they would receive only from herself; she had little hope of Mr.
Knightley, none of Mr. Weston.

But she had made up her mind how to meet this presumption so many weeks
before it appeared, that when the insult came at last, it found her
very differently affected.  Donwell and Randalls had received their
invitation, and none had come for her father and herself; and Mrs.
Weston's accounting for it with "I suppose they will not take the
liberty with you; they know you do not dine out," was not quite
sufficient.  She felt that she should like to have had the power of
refusal; and afterwards, as the idea of the party to be assembled
there, consisting precisely of those whose society was dearest to her,
occurred again and again, she did not know that she might not have been
tempted to accept.  Harriet was to be there in the evening, and the
Bateses.  They had been speaking of it as they walked about Highbury
the day before, and Frank Churchill had most earnestly lamented her
absence.  Might not the evening end in a dance? had been a question of
his.  The bare possibility of it acted as a farther irritation on her
spirits; and her being left in solitary grandeur, even supposing the
omission to be intended as a compliment, was but poor comfort.

It was the arrival of this very invitation while the Westons were at
Hartfield, which made their presence so acceptable; for though her
first remark, on reading it, was that "of course it must be declined,"
she so very soon proceeded to ask them what they advised her to do,
that their advice for her going was most prompt and successful.

She owned that, considering every thing, she was not absolutely without
inclination for the party.  The Coles expressed themselves so
properly--there was so much real attention in the manner of it--so
much consideration for her father.  "They would have solicited the
honour earlier, but had been waiting the arrival of a folding-screen
from London, which they hoped might keep Mr. Woodhouse from any draught
of air, and therefore induce him the more readily to give them the
honour of his company."  Upon the whole, she was very persuadable; and
it being briefly settled among themselves how it might be done without
neglecting his comfort--how certainly Mrs. Goddard, if not Mrs. Bates,
might be depended on for bearing him company-- Mr. Woodhouse was to be
talked into an acquiescence of his daughter's going out to dinner on a
day now near at hand, and spending the whole evening away from him.  As
for _his_ going, Emma did not wish him to think it possible, the hours
would be too late, and the party too numerous.  He was soon pretty well
resigned.

"I am not fond of dinner-visiting," said he--"I never was.  No more is
Emma.  Late hours do not agree with us.  I am sorry Mr. and Mrs. Cole
should have done it.  I think it would be much better if they would
come in one afternoon next summer, and take their tea with us--take us
in their afternoon walk; which they might do, as our hours are so
reasonable, and yet get home without being out in the damp of the
evening.  The dews of a summer evening are what I would not expose any
body to.  However, as they are so very desirous to have dear Emma dine
with them, and as you will both be there, and Mr. Knightley too, to
take care of her, I cannot wish to prevent it, provided the weather be
what it ought, neither damp, nor cold, nor windy."  Then turning to
Mrs. Weston, with a look of gentle reproach--"Ah!  Miss Taylor, if you
had not married, you would have staid at home with me."

"Well, sir," cried Mr. Weston, "as I took Miss Taylor away, it is
incumbent on me to supply her place, if I can; and I will step to Mrs.
Goddard in a moment, if you wish it."

But the idea of any thing to be done in a _moment_, was increasing, not
lessening, Mr. Woodhouse's agitation.  The ladies knew better how to
allay it.  Mr. Weston must be quiet, and every thing deliberately
arranged.

With this treatment, Mr. Woodhouse was soon composed enough for talking
as usual.  "He should be happy to see Mrs. Goddard.  He had a great
regard for Mrs. Goddard; and Emma should write a line, and invite her.
James could take the note.  But first of all, there must be an answer
written to Mrs. Cole."

"You will make my excuses, my dear, as civilly as possible.  You will
say that I am quite an invalid, and go no where, and therefore must
decline their obliging invitation; beginning with my _compliments_, of
course.  But you will do every thing right.  I need not tell you what
is to be done.  We must remember to let James know that the carriage
will be wanted on Tuesday.  I shall have no fears for you with him.  We
have never been there above once since the new approach was made; but
still I have no doubt that James will take you very safely.  And when
you get there, you must tell him at what time you would have him come
for you again; and you had better name an early hour.  You will not
like staying late.  You will get very tired when tea is over."

"But you would not wish me to come away before I am tired, papa?"

"Oh! no, my love; but you will soon be tired.  There will be a great
many people talking at once.  You will not like the noise."

"But, my dear sir," cried Mr. Weston, "if Emma comes away early, it
will be breaking up the party."

"And no great harm if it does," said Mr. Woodhouse.  "The sooner every
party breaks up, the better."

"But you do not consider how it may appear to the Coles.  Emma's going
away directly after tea might be giving offence.  They are good-natured
people, and think little of their own claims; but still they must feel
that any body's hurrying away is no great compliment; and Miss
Woodhouse's doing it would be more thought of than any other person's
in the room.  You would not wish to disappoint and mortify the Coles, I
am sure, sir; friendly, good sort of people as ever lived, and who have
been your neighbours these _ten_ years."

"No, upon no account in the world, Mr. Weston; I am much obliged to you
for reminding me.  I should be extremely sorry to be giving them any
pain.  I know what worthy people they are.  Perry tells me that Mr.
Cole never touches malt liquor.  You would not think it to look at him,
but he is bilious--Mr. Cole is very bilious.  No, I would not be the
means of giving them any pain.  My dear Emma, we must consider this.  I
am sure, rather than run the risk of hurting Mr. and Mrs. Cole, you
would stay a little longer than you might wish.  You will not regard
being tired.  You will be perfectly safe, you know, among your friends."

"Oh yes, papa.  I have no fears at all for myself; and I should have no
scruples of staying as late as Mrs. Weston, but on your account.  I am
only afraid of your sitting up for me.  I am not afraid of your not
being exceedingly comfortable with Mrs. Goddard.  She loves piquet, you
know; but when she is gone home, I am afraid you will be sitting up by
yourself, instead of going to bed at your usual time--and the idea of
that would entirely destroy my comfort.  You must promise me not to sit
up."

He did, on the condition of some promises on her side:  such as that,
if she came home cold, she would be sure to warm herself thoroughly; if
hungry, that she would take something to eat; that her own maid should
sit up for her; and that Serle and the butler should see that every
thing were safe in the house, as usual.



CHAPTER VIII


Frank Churchill came back again; and if he kept his father's dinner
waiting, it was not known at Hartfield; for Mrs. Weston was too anxious
for his being a favourite with Mr. Woodhouse, to betray any
imperfection which could be concealed.

He came back, had had his hair cut, and laughed at himself with a very
good grace, but without seeming really at all ashamed of what he had
done.  He had no reason to wish his hair longer, to conceal any
confusion of face; no reason to wish the money unspent, to improve his
spirits.  He was quite as undaunted and as lively as ever; and, after
seeing him, Emma thus moralised to herself:--

"I do not know whether it ought to be so, but certainly silly things do
cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent
way.  Wickedness is always wickedness, but folly is not always
folly.--It depends upon the character of those who handle it.  Mr.
Knightley, he is _not_ a trifling, silly young man.  If he were, he
would have done this differently.  He would either have gloried in the
achievement, or been ashamed of it.  There would have been either the
ostentation of a coxcomb, or the evasions of a mind too weak to defend
its own vanities.--No, I am perfectly sure that he is not trifling or
silly."

With Tuesday came the agreeable prospect of seeing him again, and for a
longer time than hitherto; of judging of his general manners, and by
inference, of the meaning of his manners towards herself; of guessing
how soon it might be necessary for her to throw coldness into her air;
and of fancying what the observations of all those might be, who were
now seeing them together for the first time.

She meant to be very happy, in spite of the scene being laid at Mr.
Cole's; and without being able to forget that among the failings of Mr.
Elton, even in the days of his favour, none had disturbed her more than
his propensity to dine with Mr. Cole.

Her father's comfort was amply secured, Mrs. Bates as well as Mrs.
Goddard being able to come; and her last pleasing duty, before she left
the house, was to pay her respects to them as they sat together after
dinner; and while her father was fondly noticing the beauty of her
dress, to make the two ladies all the amends in her power, by helping
them to large slices of cake and full glasses of wine, for whatever
unwilling self-denial his care of their constitution might have obliged
them to practise during the meal.--She had provided a plentiful dinner
for them; she wished she could know that they had been allowed to eat
it.

She followed another carriage to Mr. Cole's door; and was pleased to
see that it was Mr. Knightley's; for Mr. Knightley keeping no horses,
having little spare money and a great deal of health, activity, and
independence, was too apt, in Emma's opinion, to get about as he could,
and not use his carriage so often as became the owner of Donwell Abbey.
She had an opportunity now of speaking her approbation while warm from
her heart, for he stopped to hand her out.

"This is coming as you should do," said she; "like a gentleman.-- I am
quite glad to see you."

He thanked her, observing, "How lucky that we should arrive at the same
moment! for, if we had met first in the drawing-room, I doubt whether
you would have discerned me to be more of a gentleman than usual.-- You
might not have distinguished how I came, by my look or manner."

"Yes I should, I am sure I should.  There is always a look of
consciousness or bustle when people come in a way which they know to be
beneath them.  You think you carry it off very well, I dare say, but
with you it is a sort of bravado, an air of affected unconcern; I
always observe it whenever I meet you under those circumstances.  _Now_
you have nothing to try for.  You are not afraid of being supposed
ashamed.  You are not striving to look taller than any body else.
_Now_ I shall really be very happy to walk into the same room with you."

"Nonsensical girl!" was his reply, but not at all in anger.

Emma had as much reason to be satisfied with the rest of the party as
with Mr. Knightley.  She was received with a cordial respect which
could not but please, and given all the consequence she could wish for.
When the Westons arrived, the kindest looks of love, the strongest of
admiration were for her, from both husband and wife; the son approached
her with a cheerful eagerness which marked her as his peculiar object,
and at dinner she found him seated by her--and, as she firmly believed,
not without some dexterity on his side.

The party was rather large, as it included one other family, a proper
unobjectionable country family, whom the Coles had the advantage of
naming among their acquaintance, and the male part of Mr. Cox's family,
the lawyer of Highbury.  The less worthy females were to come in the
evening, with Miss Bates, Miss Fairfax, and Miss Smith; but already, at
dinner, they were too numerous for any subject of conversation to be
general; and, while politics and Mr. Elton were talked over, Emma could
fairly surrender all her attention to the pleasantness of her
neighbour.  The first remote sound to which she felt herself obliged to
attend, was the name of Jane Fairfax.  Mrs. Cole seemed to be relating
something of her that was expected to be very interesting.  She
listened, and found it well worth listening to.  That very dear part of
Emma, her fancy, received an amusing supply.  Mrs. Cole was telling
that she had been calling on Miss Bates, and as soon as she entered the
room had been struck by the sight of a pianoforte--a very elegant
looking instrument--not a grand, but a large-sized square pianoforte;
and the substance of the story, the end of all the dialogue which
ensued of surprize, and inquiry, and congratulations on her side, and
explanations on Miss Bates's, was, that this pianoforte had arrived
from Broadwood's the day before, to the great astonishment of both aunt
and niece--entirely unexpected; that at first, by Miss Bates's account,
Jane herself was quite at a loss, quite bewildered to think who could
possibly have ordered it--but now, they were both perfectly satisfied
that it could be from only one quarter;--of course it must be from
Colonel Campbell.

"One can suppose nothing else," added Mrs. Cole, "and I was only
surprized that there could ever have been a doubt.  But Jane, it seems,
had a letter from them very lately, and not a word was said about it.
She knows their ways best; but I should not consider their silence as
any reason for their not meaning to make the present.  They might chuse
to surprize her."

Mrs. Cole had many to agree with her; every body who spoke on the
subject was equally convinced that it must come from Colonel Campbell,
and equally rejoiced that such a present had been made; and there were
enough ready to speak to allow Emma to think her own way, and still
listen to Mrs. Cole.

"I declare, I do not know when I have heard any thing that has given me
more satisfaction!--It always has quite hurt me that Jane Fairfax, who
plays so delightfully, should not have an instrument.  It seemed quite
a shame, especially considering how many houses there are where fine
instruments are absolutely thrown away.  This is like giving ourselves
a slap, to be sure! and it was but yesterday I was telling Mr. Cole, I
really was ashamed to look at our new grand pianoforte in the
drawing-room, while I do not know one note from another, and our little
girls, who are but just beginning, perhaps may never make any thing of
it; and there is poor Jane Fairfax, who is mistress of music, has not
any thing of the nature of an instrument, not even the pitifullest old
spinet in the world, to amuse herself with.--I was saying this to Mr.
Cole but yesterday, and he quite agreed with me; only he is so
particularly fond of music that he could not help indulging himself in
the purchase, hoping that some of our good neighbours might be so
obliging occasionally to put it to a better use than we can; and that
really is the reason why the instrument was bought--or else I am sure
we ought to be ashamed of it.--We are in great hopes that Miss
Woodhouse may be prevailed with to try it this evening."

Miss Woodhouse made the proper acquiescence; and finding that nothing
more was to be entrapped from any communication of Mrs. Cole's, turned
to Frank Churchill.

"Why do you smile?" said she.

"Nay, why do you?"

"Me!--I suppose I smile for pleasure at Colonel Campbell's being so
rich and so liberal.--It is a handsome present."

"Very."

"I rather wonder that it was never made before."

"Perhaps Miss Fairfax has never been staying here so long before."

"Or that he did not give her the use of their own instrument--which
must now be shut up in London, untouched by any body."

"That is a grand pianoforte, and he might think it too large for Mrs.
Bates's house."

"You may _say_ what you chuse--but your countenance testifies that your
_thoughts_ on this subject are very much like mine."

"I do not know.  I rather believe you are giving me more credit for
acuteness than I deserve.  I smile because you smile, and shall
probably suspect whatever I find you suspect; but at present I do not
see what there is to question.  If Colonel Campbell is not the person,
who can be?"

"What do you say to Mrs. Dixon?"

"Mrs. Dixon! very true indeed.  I had not thought of Mrs. Dixon.  She
must know as well as her father, how acceptable an instrument would be;
and perhaps the mode of it, the mystery, the surprize, is more like a
young woman's scheme than an elderly man's. It is Mrs. Dixon, I dare
say.  I told you that your suspicions would guide mine."

"If so, you must extend your suspicions and comprehend _Mr_. Dixon in
them."

"Mr. Dixon.--Very well.  Yes, I immediately perceive that it must be
the joint present of Mr. and Mrs. Dixon.  We were speaking the other
day, you know, of his being so warm an admirer of her performance."

"Yes, and what you told me on that head, confirmed an idea which I had
entertained before.--I do not mean to reflect upon the good intentions
of either Mr. Dixon or Miss Fairfax, but I cannot help suspecting
either that, after making his proposals to her friend, he had the
misfortune to fall in love with _her_, or that he became conscious of a
little attachment on her side.  One might guess twenty things without
guessing exactly the right; but I am sure there must be a particular
cause for her chusing to come to Highbury instead of going with the
Campbells to Ireland.  Here, she must be leading a life of privation
and penance; there it would have been all enjoyment.  As to the
pretence of trying her native air, I look upon that as a mere
excuse.--In the summer it might have passed; but what can any body's
native air do for them in the months of January, February, and March?
Good fires and carriages would be much more to the purpose in most
cases of delicate health, and I dare say in her's. I do not require you
to adopt all my suspicions, though you make so noble a profession of
doing it, but I honestly tell you what they are."

"And, upon my word, they have an air of great probability.  Mr. Dixon's
preference of her music to her friend's, I can answer for being very
decided."

"And then, he saved her life.  Did you ever hear of that?-- A water
party; and by some accident she was falling overboard.  He caught her."

"He did.  I was there--one of the party."

"Were you really?--Well!--But you observed nothing of course, for it
seems to be a new idea to you.--If I had been there, I think I should
have made some discoveries."

"I dare say you would; but I, simple I, saw nothing but the fact, that
Miss Fairfax was nearly dashed from the vessel and that Mr. Dixon
caught her.--It was the work of a moment.  And though the consequent
shock and alarm was very great and much more durable--indeed I believe
it was half an hour before any of us were comfortable again--yet that
was too general a sensation for any thing of peculiar anxiety to be
observable.  I do not mean to say, however, that you might not have
made discoveries."

The conversation was here interrupted.  They were called on to share in
the awkwardness of a rather long interval between the courses, and
obliged to be as formal and as orderly as the others; but when the
table was again safely covered, when every corner dish was placed
exactly right, and occupation and ease were generally restored, Emma
said,

"The arrival of this pianoforte is decisive with me.  I wanted to know
a little more, and this tells me quite enough.  Depend upon it, we
shall soon hear that it is a present from Mr. and Mrs. Dixon."

"And if the Dixons should absolutely deny all knowledge of it we must
conclude it to come from the Campbells."

"No, I am sure it is not from the Campbells.  Miss Fairfax knows it is
not from the Campbells, or they would have been guessed at first.  She
would not have been puzzled, had she dared fix on them.  I may not have
convinced you perhaps, but I am perfectly convinced myself that Mr.
Dixon is a principal in the business."

"Indeed you injure me if you suppose me unconvinced.  Your reasonings
carry my judgment along with them entirely.  At first, while I supposed
you satisfied that Colonel Campbell was the giver, I saw it only as
paternal kindness, and thought it the most natural thing in the world.
But when you mentioned Mrs. Dixon, I felt how much more probable that
it should be the tribute of warm female friendship.  And now I can see
it in no other light than as an offering of love."

There was no occasion to press the matter farther.  The conviction
seemed real; he looked as if he felt it.  She said no more, other
subjects took their turn; and the rest of the dinner passed away; the
dessert succeeded, the children came in, and were talked to and admired
amid the usual rate of conversation; a few clever things said, a few
downright silly, but by much the larger proportion neither the one nor
the other--nothing worse than everyday remarks, dull repetitions, old
news, and heavy jokes.

The ladies had not been long in the drawing-room, before the other
ladies, in their different divisions, arrived.  Emma watched the entree
of her own particular little friend; and if she could not exult in her
dignity and grace, she could not only love the blooming sweetness and
the artless manner, but could most heartily rejoice in that light,
cheerful, unsentimental disposition which allowed her so many
alleviations of pleasure, in the midst of the pangs of disappointed
affection.  There she sat--and who would have guessed how many tears
she had been lately shedding?  To be in company, nicely dressed herself
and seeing others nicely dressed, to sit and smile and look pretty, and
say nothing, was enough for the happiness of the present hour.  Jane
Fairfax did look and move superior; but Emma suspected she might have
been glad to change feelings with Harriet, very glad to have purchased
the mortification of having loved--yes, of having loved even Mr. Elton
in vain--by the surrender of all the dangerous pleasure of knowing
herself beloved by the husband of her friend.

In so large a party it was not necessary that Emma should approach her.
She did not wish to speak of the pianoforte, she felt too much in the
secret herself, to think the appearance of curiosity or interest fair,
and therefore purposely kept at a distance; but by the others, the
subject was almost immediately introduced, and she saw the blush of
consciousness with which congratulations were received, the blush of
guilt which accompanied the name of "my excellent friend Colonel
Campbell."

Mrs. Weston, kind-hearted and musical, was particularly interested by
the circumstance, and Emma could not help being amused at her
perseverance in dwelling on the subject; and having so much to ask and
to say as to tone, touch, and pedal, totally unsuspicious of that wish
of saying as little about it as possible, which she plainly read in the
fair heroine's countenance.

They were soon joined by some of the gentlemen; and the very first of
the early was Frank Churchill.  In he walked, the first and the
handsomest; and after paying his compliments en passant to Miss Bates
and her niece, made his way directly to the opposite side of the
circle, where sat Miss Woodhouse; and till he could find a seat by her,
would not sit at all.  Emma divined what every body present must be
thinking.  She was his object, and every body must perceive it.  She
introduced him to her friend, Miss Smith, and, at convenient moments
afterwards, heard what each thought of the other.  "He had never seen
so lovely a face, and was delighted with her naivete." And she, "Only
to be sure it was paying him too great a compliment, but she did think
there were some looks a little like Mr. Elton." Emma restrained her
indignation, and only turned from her in silence.

Smiles of intelligence passed between her and the gentleman on first
glancing towards Miss Fairfax; but it was most prudent to avoid speech.
He told her that he had been impatient to leave the dining-room--hated
sitting long--was always the first to move when he could--that his
father, Mr. Knightley, Mr. Cox, and Mr. Cole, were left very busy over
parish business--that as long as he had staid, however, it had been
pleasant enough, as he had found them in general a set of
gentlemanlike, sensible men; and spoke so handsomely of Highbury
altogether--thought it so abundant in agreeable families--that Emma
began to feel she had been used to despise the place rather too much.
She questioned him as to the society in Yorkshire--the extent of the
neighbourhood about Enscombe, and the sort; and could make out from his
answers that, as far as Enscombe was concerned, there was very little
going on, that their visitings were among a range of great families,
none very near; and that even when days were fixed, and invitations
accepted, it was an even chance that Mrs. Churchill were not in health
and spirits for going; that they made a point of visiting no fresh
person; and that, though he had his separate engagements, it was not
without difficulty, without considerable address _at_ _times_, that he
could get away, or introduce an acquaintance for a night.

She saw that Enscombe could not satisfy, and that Highbury, taken at
its best, might reasonably please a young man who had more retirement
at home than he liked.  His importance at Enscombe was very evident.
He did not boast, but it naturally betrayed itself, that he had
persuaded his aunt where his uncle could do nothing, and on her
laughing and noticing it, he owned that he believed (excepting one or
two points) he could _with_ _time_ persuade her to any thing.  One of
those points on which his influence failed, he then mentioned.  He had
wanted very much to go abroad--had been very eager indeed to be allowed
to travel--but she would not hear of it.  This had happened the year
before.  _Now_, he said, he was beginning to have no longer the same
wish.

The unpersuadable point, which he did not mention, Emma guessed to be
good behaviour to his father.

"I have made a most wretched discovery," said he, after a short
pause.-- "I have been here a week to-morrow--half my time.  I never
knew days fly so fast.  A week to-morrow!--And I have hardly begun to
enjoy myself.  But just got acquainted with Mrs. Weston, and others!--
I hate the recollection."

"Perhaps you may now begin to regret that you spent one whole day, out
of so few, in having your hair cut."

"No," said he, smiling, "that is no subject of regret at all.  I have
no pleasure in seeing my friends, unless I can believe myself fit to be
seen."

The rest of the gentlemen being now in the room, Emma found herself
obliged to turn from him for a few minutes, and listen to Mr. Cole.
When Mr. Cole had moved away, and her attention could be restored as
before, she saw Frank Churchill looking intently across the room at
Miss Fairfax, who was sitting exactly opposite.

"What is the matter?" said she.

He started.  "Thank you for rousing me," he replied.  "I believe I have
been very rude; but really Miss Fairfax has done her hair in so odd a
way--so very odd a way--that I cannot keep my eyes from her.  I never
saw any thing so outree!--Those curls!--This must be a fancy of her
own.  I see nobody else looking like her!-- I must go and ask her
whether it is an Irish fashion.  Shall I?-- Yes, I will--I declare I
will--and you shall see how she takes it;--whether she colours."

He was gone immediately; and Emma soon saw him standing before Miss
Fairfax, and talking to her; but as to its effect on the young lady, as
he had improvidently placed himself exactly between them, exactly in
front of Miss Fairfax, she could absolutely distinguish nothing.

Before he could return to his chair, it was taken by Mrs. Weston.

"This is the luxury of a large party," said she:--"one can get near
every body, and say every thing.  My dear Emma, I am longing to talk to
you.  I have been making discoveries and forming plans, just like
yourself, and I must tell them while the idea is fresh.  Do you know
how Miss Bates and her niece came here?"

"How?--They were invited, were not they?"

"Oh! yes--but how they were conveyed hither?--the manner of their
coming?"

"They walked, I conclude.  How else could they come?"

"Very true.--Well, a little while ago it occurred to me how very sad it
would be to have Jane Fairfax walking home again, late at night, and
cold as the nights are now.  And as I looked at her, though I never saw
her appear to more advantage, it struck me that she was heated, and
would therefore be particularly liable to take cold.  Poor girl!  I
could not bear the idea of it; so, as soon as Mr. Weston came into the
room, and I could get at him, I spoke to him about the carriage.  You
may guess how readily he came into my wishes; and having his
approbation, I made my way directly to Miss Bates, to assure her that
the carriage would be at her service before it took us home; for I
thought it would be making her comfortable at once.  Good soul! she was
as grateful as possible, you may be sure.  'Nobody was ever so
fortunate as herself!'--but with many, many thanks--'there was no
occasion to trouble us, for Mr. Knightley's carriage had brought, and
was to take them home again.'  I was quite surprized;--very glad, I am
sure; but really quite surprized.  Such a very kind attention--and so
thoughtful an attention!--the sort of thing that so few men would
think of.  And, in short, from knowing his usual ways, I am very much
inclined to think that it was for their accommodation the carriage was
used at all.  I do suspect he would not have had a pair of horses for
himself, and that it was only as an excuse for assisting them."

"Very likely," said Emma--"nothing more likely.  I know no man more
likely than Mr. Knightley to do the sort of thing--to do any thing
really good-natured, useful, considerate, or benevolent.  He is not a
gallant man, but he is a very humane one; and this, considering Jane
Fairfax's ill-health, would appear a case of humanity to him;--and for
an act of unostentatious kindness, there is nobody whom I would fix on
more than on Mr. Knightley.  I know he had horses to-day--for we
arrived together; and I laughed at him about it, but he said not a word
that could betray."

"Well," said Mrs. Weston, smiling, "you give him credit for more
simple, disinterested benevolence in this instance than I do; for while
Miss Bates was speaking, a suspicion darted into my head, and I have
never been able to get it out again.  The more I think of it, the more
probable it appears.  In short, I have made a match between Mr.
Knightley and Jane Fairfax.  See the consequence of keeping you
company!--What do you say to it?"

"Mr. Knightley and Jane Fairfax!" exclaimed Emma.  "Dear Mrs. Weston,
how could you think of such a thing?--Mr. Knightley!--Mr. Knightley
must not marry!--You would not have little Henry cut out from
Donwell?-- Oh! no, no, Henry must have Donwell.  I cannot at all
consent to Mr. Knightley's marrying; and I am sure it is not at all
likely.  I am amazed that you should think of such a thing."

"My dear Emma, I have told you what led me to think of it.  I do not
want the match--I do not want to injure dear little Henry--but the
idea has been given me by circumstances; and if Mr. Knightley really
wished to marry, you would not have him refrain on Henry's account, a
boy of six years old, who knows nothing of the matter?"

"Yes, I would.  I could not bear to have Henry supplanted.-- Mr.
Knightley marry!--No, I have never had such an idea, and I cannot adopt
it now.  And Jane Fairfax, too, of all women!"

"Nay, she has always been a first favourite with him, as you very well
know."

"But the imprudence of such a match!"

"I am not speaking of its prudence; merely its probability."

"I see no probability in it, unless you have any better foundation than
what you mention.  His good-nature, his humanity, as I tell you, would
be quite enough to account for the horses.  He has a great regard for
the Bateses, you know, independent of Jane Fairfax--and is always glad
to shew them attention.  My dear Mrs. Weston, do not take to
match-making.  You do it very ill.  Jane Fairfax mistress of the
Abbey!--Oh! no, no;--every feeling revolts.  For his own sake, I would
not have him do so mad a thing."

"Imprudent, if you please--but not mad.  Excepting inequality of
fortune, and perhaps a little disparity of age, I can see nothing
unsuitable."

"But Mr. Knightley does not want to marry.  I am sure he has not the
least idea of it.  Do not put it into his head.  Why should he marry?--
He is as happy as possible by himself; with his farm, and his sheep,
and his library, and all the parish to manage; and he is extremely fond
of his brother's children.  He has no occasion to marry, either to fill
up his time or his heart."

"My dear Emma, as long as he thinks so, it is so; but if he really
loves Jane Fairfax--"

"Nonsense!  He does not care about Jane Fairfax.  In the way of love, I
am sure he does not.  He would do any good to her, or her family; but--"

"Well," said Mrs. Weston, laughing, "perhaps the greatest good he could
do them, would be to give Jane such a respectable home."

"If it would be good to her, I am sure it would be evil to himself; a
very shameful and degrading connexion.  How would he bear to have Miss
Bates belonging to him?--To have her haunting the Abbey, and thanking
him all day long for his great kindness in marrying Jane?-- 'So very
kind and obliging!--But he always had been such a very kind neighbour!'
And then fly off, through half a sentence, to her mother's old
petticoat.  'Not that it was such a very old petticoat either--for
still it would last a great while--and, indeed, she must thankfully say
that their petticoats were all very strong.'"

"For shame, Emma!  Do not mimic her.  You divert me against my
conscience.  And, upon my word, I do not think Mr. Knightley would be
much disturbed by Miss Bates.  Little things do not irritate him.  She
might talk on; and if he wanted to say any thing himself, he would only
talk louder, and drown her voice.  But the question is not, whether it
would be a bad connexion for him, but whether he wishes it; and I think
he does.  I have heard him speak, and so must you, so very highly of
Jane Fairfax!  The interest he takes in her--his anxiety about her
health--his concern that she should have no happier prospect!  I have
heard him express himself so warmly on those points!--Such an admirer
of her performance on the pianoforte, and of her voice!  I have heard
him say that he could listen to her for ever.  Oh! and I had almost
forgotten one idea that occurred to me--this pianoforte that has been
sent here by somebody--though we have all been so well satisfied to
consider it a present from the Campbells, may it not be from Mr.
Knightley?  I cannot help suspecting him.  I think he is just the
person to do it, even without being in love."

"Then it can be no argument to prove that he is in love.  But I do not
think it is at all a likely thing for him to do.  Mr. Knightley does
nothing mysteriously."

"I have heard him lamenting her having no instrument repeatedly;
oftener than I should suppose such a circumstance would, in the common
course of things, occur to him."

"Very well; and if he had intended to give her one, he would have told
her so."

"There might be scruples of delicacy, my dear Emma.  I have a very
strong notion that it comes from him.  I am sure he was particularly
silent when Mrs. Cole told us of it at dinner."

"You take up an idea, Mrs. Weston, and run away with it; as you have
many a time reproached me with doing.  I see no sign of attachment--I
believe nothing of the pianoforte--and proof only shall convince me
that Mr. Knightley has any thought of marrying Jane Fairfax."

They combated the point some time longer in the same way; Emma rather
gaining ground over the mind of her friend; for Mrs. Weston was the
most used of the two to yield; till a little bustle in the room shewed
them that tea was over, and the instrument in preparation;--and at the
same moment Mr. Cole approaching to entreat Miss Woodhouse would do
them the honour of trying it.  Frank Churchill, of whom, in the
eagerness of her conversation with Mrs. Weston, she had been seeing
nothing, except that he had found a seat by Miss Fairfax, followed Mr.
Cole, to add his very pressing entreaties; and as, in every respect, it
suited Emma best to lead, she gave a very proper compliance.

She knew the limitations of her own powers too well to attempt more
than she could perform with credit; she wanted neither taste nor spirit
in the little things which are generally acceptable, and could
accompany her own voice well.  One accompaniment to her song took her
agreeably by surprize--a second, slightly but correctly taken by Frank
Churchill.  Her pardon was duly begged at the close of the song, and
every thing usual followed.  He was accused of having a delightful
voice, and a perfect knowledge of music; which was properly denied; and
that he knew nothing of the matter, and had no voice at all, roundly
asserted.  They sang together once more; and Emma would then resign her
place to Miss Fairfax, whose performance, both vocal and instrumental,
she never could attempt to conceal from herself, was infinitely
superior to her own.

With mixed feelings, she seated herself at a little distance from the
numbers round the instrument, to listen.  Frank Churchill sang again.
They had sung together once or twice, it appeared, at Weymouth.  But
the sight of Mr. Knightley among the most attentive, soon drew away
half Emma's mind; and she fell into a train of thinking on the subject
of Mrs. Weston's suspicions, to which the sweet sounds of the united
voices gave only momentary interruptions.  Her objections to Mr.
Knightley's marrying did not in the least subside.  She could see
nothing but evil in it.  It would be a great disappointment to Mr. John
Knightley; consequently to Isabella.  A real injury to the children--a
most mortifying change, and material loss to them all;--a very great
deduction from her father's daily comfort--and, as to herself, she
could not at all endure the idea of Jane Fairfax at Donwell Abbey.  A
Mrs. Knightley for them all to give way to!--No--Mr. Knightley must
never marry.  Little Henry must remain the heir of Donwell.

Presently Mr. Knightley looked back, and came and sat down by her.
They talked at first only of the performance.  His admiration was
certainly very warm; yet she thought, but for Mrs. Weston, it would not
have struck her.  As a sort of touchstone, however, she began to speak
of his kindness in conveying the aunt and niece; and though his answer
was in the spirit of cutting the matter short, she believed it to
indicate only his disinclination to dwell on any kindness of his own.

"I often feel concern," said she, "that I dare not make our carriage
more useful on such occasions.  It is not that I am without the wish;
but you know how impossible my father would deem it that James should
put-to for such a purpose."

"Quite out of the question, quite out of the question," he replied;--
"but you must often wish it, I am sure."  And he smiled with such
seeming pleasure at the conviction, that she must proceed another step.

"This present from the Campbells," said she--"this pianoforte is very
kindly given."

"Yes," he replied, and without the smallest apparent embarrassment.--
"But they would have done better had they given her notice of it.
Surprizes are foolish things.  The pleasure is not enhanced, and the
inconvenience is often considerable.  I should have expected better
judgment in Colonel Campbell."

From that moment, Emma could have taken her oath that Mr. Knightley had
had no concern in giving the instrument.  But whether he were entirely
free from peculiar attachment--whether there were no actual
preference--remained a little longer doubtful.  Towards the end of
Jane's second song, her voice grew thick.

"That will do," said he, when it was finished, thinking aloud--"you
have sung quite enough for one evening--now be quiet."

Another song, however, was soon begged for.  "One more;--they would not
fatigue Miss Fairfax on any account, and would only ask for one more."
And Frank Churchill was heard to say, "I think you could manage this
without effort; the first part is so very trifling.  The strength of
the song falls on the second."

Mr. Knightley grew angry.

"That fellow," said he, indignantly, "thinks of nothing but shewing off
his own voice.  This must not be."  And touching Miss Bates, who at
that moment passed near--"Miss Bates, are you mad, to let your niece
sing herself hoarse in this manner?  Go, and interfere.  They have no
mercy on her."

Miss Bates, in her real anxiety for Jane, could hardly stay even to be
grateful, before she stept forward and put an end to all farther
singing.  Here ceased the concert part of the evening, for Miss
Woodhouse and Miss Fairfax were the only young lady performers; but
soon (within five minutes) the proposal of dancing--originating nobody
exactly knew where--was so effectually promoted by Mr. and Mrs. Cole,
that every thing was rapidly clearing away, to give proper space.  Mrs.
Weston, capital in her country-dances, was seated, and beginning an
irresistible waltz; and Frank Churchill, coming up with most becoming
gallantry to Emma, had secured her hand, and led her up to the top.

While waiting till the other young people could pair themselves off,
Emma found time, in spite of the compliments she was receiving on her
voice and her taste, to look about, and see what became of Mr.
Knightley.  This would be a trial.  He was no dancer in general.  If he
were to be very alert in engaging Jane Fairfax now, it might augur
something.  There was no immediate appearance.  No; he was talking to
Mrs. Cole--he was looking on unconcerned; Jane was asked by somebody
else, and he was still talking to Mrs. Cole.

Emma had no longer an alarm for Henry; his interest was yet safe; and
she led off the dance with genuine spirit and enjoyment.  Not more than
five couple could be mustered; but the rarity and the suddenness of it
made it very delightful, and she found herself well matched in a
partner.  They were a couple worth looking at.

Two dances, unfortunately, were all that could be allowed.  It was
growing late, and Miss Bates became anxious to get home, on her
mother's account.  After some attempts, therefore, to be permitted to
begin again, they were obliged to thank Mrs. Weston, look sorrowful,
and have done.

"Perhaps it is as well," said Frank Churchill, as he attended Emma to
her carriage.  "I must have asked Miss Fairfax, and her languid dancing
would not have agreed with me, after your's."



CHAPTER IX


Emma did not repent her condescension in going to the Coles.  The visit
afforded her many pleasant recollections the next day; and all that she
might be supposed to have lost on the side of dignified seclusion, must
be amply repaid in the splendour of popularity.  She must have
delighted the Coles--worthy people, who deserved to be made happy!--And
left a name behind her that would not soon die away.

Perfect happiness, even in memory, is not common; and there were two
points on which she was not quite easy.  She doubted whether she had
not transgressed the duty of woman by woman, in betraying her
suspicions of Jane Fairfax's feelings to Frank Churchill.  It was
hardly right; but it had been so strong an idea, that it would escape
her, and his submission to all that she told, was a compliment to her
penetration, which made it difficult for her to be quite certain that
she ought to have held her tongue.

The other circumstance of regret related also to Jane Fairfax; and
there she had no doubt.  She did unfeignedly and unequivocally regret
the inferiority of her own playing and singing.  She did most heartily
grieve over the idleness of her childhood--and sat down and practised
vigorously an hour and a half.

She was then interrupted by Harriet's coming in; and if Harriet's
praise could have satisfied her, she might soon have been comforted.

"Oh! if I could but play as well as you and Miss Fairfax!"

"Don't class us together, Harriet.  My playing is no more like her's,
than a lamp is like sunshine."

"Oh! dear--I think you play the best of the two.  I think you play
quite as well as she does.  I am sure I had much rather hear you.
Every body last night said how well you played."

"Those who knew any thing about it, must have felt the difference.  The
truth is, Harriet, that my playing is just good enough to be praised,
but Jane Fairfax's is much beyond it."

"Well, I always shall think that you play quite as well as she does, or
that if there is any difference nobody would ever find it out.  Mr.
Cole said how much taste you had; and Mr. Frank Churchill talked a
great deal about your taste, and that he valued taste much more than
execution."

"Ah! but Jane Fairfax has them both, Harriet."

"Are you sure?  I saw she had execution, but I did not know she had any
taste.  Nobody talked about it.  And I hate Italian singing.-- There is
no understanding a word of it.  Besides, if she does play so very well,
you know, it is no more than she is obliged to do, because she will
have to teach.  The Coxes were wondering last night whether she would
get into any great family.  How did you think the Coxes looked?"

"Just as they always do--very vulgar."

"They told me something," said Harriet rather hesitatingly; "but it is
nothing of any consequence."

Emma was obliged to ask what they had told her, though fearful of its
producing Mr. Elton.

"They told me--that Mr. Martin dined with them last Saturday."

"Oh!"

"He came to their father upon some business, and he asked him to stay
to dinner."

"Oh!"

"They talked a great deal about him, especially Anne Cox.  I do not
know what she meant, but she asked me if I thought I should go and stay
there again next summer."

"She meant to be impertinently curious, just as such an Anne Cox should
be."

"She said he was very agreeable the day he dined there.  He sat by her
at dinner.  Miss Nash thinks either of the Coxes would be very glad to
marry him."

"Very likely.--I think they are, without exception, the most vulgar
girls in Highbury."

Harriet had business at Ford's.--Emma thought it most prudent to go
with her.  Another accidental meeting with the Martins was possible,
and in her present state, would be dangerous.

Harriet, tempted by every thing and swayed by half a word, was always
very long at a purchase; and while she was still hanging over muslins
and changing her mind, Emma went to the door for amusement.--Much could
not be hoped from the traffic of even the busiest part of Highbury;--
Mr. Perry walking hastily by, Mr. William Cox letting himself in at the
office-door, Mr. Cole's carriage-horses returning from exercise, or a
stray letter-boy on an obstinate mule, were the liveliest objects she
could presume to expect; and when her eyes fell only on the butcher
with his tray, a tidy old woman travelling homewards from shop with her
full basket, two curs quarrelling over a dirty bone, and a string of
dawdling children round the baker's little bow-window eyeing the
gingerbread, she knew she had no reason to complain, and was amused
enough; quite enough still to stand at the door.  A mind lively and at
ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not
answer.

She looked down the Randalls road.  The scene enlarged; two persons
appeared; Mrs. Weston and her son-in-law; they were walking into
Highbury;--to Hartfield of course.  They were stopping, however, in the
first place at Mrs. Bates's; whose house was a little nearer Randalls
than Ford's; and had all but knocked, when Emma caught their
eye.--Immediately they crossed the road and came forward to her; and
the agreeableness of yesterday's engagement seemed to give fresh
pleasure to the present meeting.  Mrs. Weston informed her that she was
going to call on the Bateses, in order to hear the new instrument.

"For my companion tells me," said she, "that I absolutely promised Miss
Bates last night, that I would come this morning.  I was not aware of
it myself.  I did not know that I had fixed a day, but as he says I
did, I am going now."

"And while Mrs. Weston pays her visit, I may be allowed, I hope," said
Frank Churchill, "to join your party and wait for her at Hartfield--if
you are going home."

Mrs. Weston was disappointed.

"I thought you meant to go with me.  They would be very much pleased."

"Me!  I should be quite in the way.  But, perhaps--I may be equally in
the way here.  Miss Woodhouse looks as if she did not want me.  My aunt
always sends me off when she is shopping.  She says I fidget her to
death; and Miss Woodhouse looks as if she could almost say the same.
What am I to do?"

"I am here on no business of my own," said Emma; "I am only waiting for
my friend.  She will probably have soon done, and then we shall go
home.  But you had better go with Mrs. Weston and hear the instrument."

"Well--if you advise it.--But (with a smile) if Colonel Campbell should
have employed a careless friend, and if it should prove to have an
indifferent tone--what shall I say?  I shall be no support to Mrs.
Weston.  She might do very well by herself.  A disagreeable truth would
be palatable through her lips, but I am the wretchedest being in the
world at a civil falsehood."

"I do not believe any such thing," replied Emma.--"I am persuaded that
you can be as insincere as your neighbours, when it is necessary; but
there is no reason to suppose the instrument is indifferent.  Quite
otherwise indeed, if I understood Miss Fairfax's opinion last night."

"Do come with me," said Mrs. Weston, "if it be not very disagreeable to
you.  It need not detain us long.  We will go to Hartfield afterwards.
We will follow them to Hartfield.  I really wish you to call with me.
It will be felt so great an attention! and I always thought you meant
it."

He could say no more; and with the hope of Hartfield to reward him,
returned with Mrs. Weston to Mrs. Bates's door.  Emma watched them in,
and then joined Harriet at the interesting counter,--trying, with all
the force of her own mind, to convince her that if she wanted plain
muslin it was of no use to look at figured; and that a blue ribbon, be
it ever so beautiful, would still never match her yellow pattern.  At
last it was all settled, even to the destination of the parcel.

"Should I send it to Mrs. Goddard's, ma'am?" asked Mrs. Ford.--
"Yes--no--yes, to Mrs. Goddard's. Only my pattern gown is at Hartfield.
No, you shall send it to Hartfield, if you please.  But then, Mrs.
Goddard will want to see it.--And I could take the pattern gown home
any day.  But I shall want the ribbon directly--so it had better go to
Hartfield--at least the ribbon.  You could make it into two parcels,
Mrs. Ford, could not you?"

"It is not worth while, Harriet, to give Mrs. Ford the trouble of two
parcels."

"No more it is."

"No trouble in the world, ma'am," said the obliging Mrs. Ford.

"Oh! but indeed I would much rather have it only in one.  Then, if you
please, you shall send it all to Mrs. Goddard's-- I do not know--No, I
think, Miss Woodhouse, I may just as well have it sent to Hartfield,
and take it home with me at night.  What do you advise?"

"That you do not give another half-second to the subject.  To
Hartfield, if you please, Mrs. Ford."

"Aye, that will be much best," said Harriet, quite satisfied, "I should
not at all like to have it sent to Mrs. Goddard's."

Voices approached the shop--or rather one voice and two ladies: Mrs.
Weston and Miss Bates met them at the door.

"My dear Miss Woodhouse," said the latter, "I am just run across to
entreat the favour of you to come and sit down with us a little while,
and give us your opinion of our new instrument; you and Miss Smith.
How do you do, Miss Smith?--Very well I thank you.--And I begged Mrs.
Weston to come with me, that I might be sure of succeeding."

"I hope Mrs. Bates and Miss Fairfax are--"

"Very well, I am much obliged to you.  My mother is delightfully well;
and Jane caught no cold last night.  How is Mr. Woodhouse?--I am so
glad to hear such a good account.  Mrs. Weston told me you were here.--
Oh! then, said I, I must run across, I am sure Miss Woodhouse will
allow me just to run across and entreat her to come in; my mother will
be so very happy to see her--and now we are such a nice party, she
cannot refuse.--'Aye, pray do,' said Mr. Frank Churchill, 'Miss
Woodhouse's opinion of the instrument will be worth having.'-- But,
said I, I shall be more sure of succeeding if one of you will go with
me.--'Oh,' said he, 'wait half a minute, till I have finished my
job;'--For, would you believe it, Miss Woodhouse, there he is, in the
most obliging manner in the world, fastening in the rivet of my
mother's spectacles.--The rivet came out, you know, this morning.-- So
very obliging!--For my mother had no use of her spectacles--could not
put them on.  And, by the bye, every body ought to have two pair of
spectacles; they should indeed.  Jane said so.  I meant to take them
over to John Saunders the first thing I did, but something or other
hindered me all the morning; first one thing, then another, there is no
saying what, you know.  At one time Patty came to say she thought the
kitchen chimney wanted sweeping.  Oh, said I, Patty do not come with
your bad news to me.  Here is the rivet of your mistress's spectacles
out.  Then the baked apples came home, Mrs. Wallis sent them by her
boy; they are extremely civil and obliging to us, the Wallises,
always--I have heard some people say that Mrs. Wallis can be uncivil
and give a very rude answer, but we have never known any thing but the
greatest attention from them.  And it cannot be for the value of our
custom now, for what is our consumption of bread, you know?  Only three
of us.--besides dear Jane at present--and she really eats
nothing--makes such a shocking breakfast, you would be quite frightened
if you saw it.  I dare not let my mother know how little she eats--so I
say one thing and then I say another, and it passes off.  But about the
middle of the day she gets hungry, and there is nothing she likes so
well as these baked apples, and they are extremely wholesome, for I
took the opportunity the other day of asking Mr. Perry; I happened to
meet him in the street.  Not that I had any doubt before-- I have so
often heard Mr. Woodhouse recommend a baked apple.  I believe it is the
only way that Mr. Woodhouse thinks the fruit thoroughly wholesome.  We
have apple-dumplings, however, very often.  Patty makes an excellent
apple-dumpling. Well, Mrs. Weston, you have prevailed, I hope, and
these ladies will oblige us."

Emma would be "very happy to wait on Mrs. Bates, &c.," and they did at
last move out of the shop, with no farther delay from Miss Bates than,

"How do you do, Mrs. Ford?  I beg your pardon.  I did not see you
before.  I hear you have a charming collection of new ribbons from
town.  Jane came back delighted yesterday.  Thank ye, the gloves do
very well--only a little too large about the wrist; but Jane is taking
them in."

"What was I talking of?" said she, beginning again when they were all
in the street.

Emma wondered on what, of all the medley, she would fix.

"I declare I cannot recollect what I was talking of.--Oh! my mother's
spectacles.  So very obliging of Mr. Frank Churchill!  'Oh!' said he,
'I do think I can fasten the rivet; I like a job of this kind
excessively.'--Which you know shewed him to be so very. . . . Indeed I
must say that, much as I had heard of him before and much as I had
expected, he very far exceeds any thing. . . . I do congratulate you,
Mrs. Weston, most warmly.  He seems every thing the fondest parent
could. . . . 'Oh!' said he, 'I can fasten the rivet.  I like a job of
that sort excessively.' I never shall forget his manner.  And when I
brought out the baked apples from the closet, and hoped our friends
would be so very obliging as to take some, 'Oh!' said he directly,
'there is nothing in the way of fruit half so good, and these are the
finest-looking home-baked apples I ever saw in my life.'  That, you
know, was so very. . . . And I am sure, by his manner, it was no
compliment.  Indeed they are very delightful apples, and Mrs. Wallis
does them full justice--only we do not have them baked more than twice,
and Mr. Woodhouse made us promise to have them done three times--but
Miss Woodhouse will be so good as not to mention it.  The apples
themselves are the very finest sort for baking, beyond a doubt; all
from Donwell--some of Mr. Knightley's most liberal supply.  He sends us
a sack every year; and certainly there never was such a keeping apple
anywhere as one of his trees--I believe there is two of them.  My
mother says the orchard was always famous in her younger days.  But I
was really quite shocked the other day--for Mr. Knightley called one
morning, and Jane was eating these apples, and we talked about them and
said how much she enjoyed them, and he asked whether we were not got to
the end of our stock.  'I am sure you must be,' said he, 'and I will
send you another supply; for I have a great many more than I can ever
use.  William Larkins let me keep a larger quantity than usual this
year.  I will send you some more, before they get good for nothing.' So
I begged he would not--for really as to ours being gone, I could not
absolutely say that we had a great many left--it was but half a dozen
indeed; but they should be all kept for Jane; and I could not at all
bear that he should be sending us more, so liberal as he had been
already; and Jane said the same.  And when he was gone, she almost
quarrelled with me--No, I should not say quarrelled, for we never had a
quarrel in our lives; but she was quite distressed that I had owned the
apples were so nearly gone; she wished I had made him believe we had a
great many left.  Oh, said I, my dear, I did say as much as I could.
However, the very same evening William Larkins came over with a large
basket of apples, the same sort of apples, a bushel at least, and I was
very much obliged, and went down and spoke to William Larkins and said
every thing, as you may suppose.  William Larkins is such an old
acquaintance!  I am always glad to see him.  But, however, I found
afterwards from Patty, that William said it was all the apples of
_that_ sort his master had; he had brought them all--and now his master
had not one left to bake or boil.  William did not seem to mind it
himself, he was so pleased to think his master had sold so many; for
William, you know, thinks more of his master's profit than any thing;
but Mrs. Hodges, he said, was quite displeased at their being all sent
away.  She could not bear that her master should not be able to have
another apple-tart this spring.  He told Patty this, but bid her not
mind it, and be sure not to say any thing to us about it, for Mrs.
Hodges _would_ be cross sometimes, and as long as so many sacks were
sold, it did not signify who ate the remainder.  And so Patty told me,
and I was excessively shocked indeed!  I would not have Mr. Knightley
know any thing about it for the world!  He would be so very. . . . I
wanted to keep it from Jane's knowledge; but, unluckily, I had
mentioned it before I was aware."

Miss Bates had just done as Patty opened the door; and her visitors
walked upstairs without having any regular narration to attend to,
pursued only by the sounds of her desultory good-will.

"Pray take care, Mrs. Weston, there is a step at the turning.  Pray
take care, Miss Woodhouse, ours is rather a dark staircase--rather
darker and narrower than one could wish.  Miss Smith, pray take care.
Miss Woodhouse, I am quite concerned, I am sure you hit your foot.
Miss Smith, the step at the turning."



CHAPTER X


The appearance of the little sitting-room as they entered, was
tranquillity itself; Mrs. Bates, deprived of her usual employment,
slumbering on one side of the fire, Frank Churchill, at a table near
her, most deedily occupied about her spectacles, and Jane Fairfax,
standing with her back to them, intent on her pianoforte.

Busy as he was, however, the young man was yet able to shew a most
happy countenance on seeing Emma again.

"This is a pleasure," said he, in rather a low voice, "coming at least
ten minutes earlier than I had calculated.  You find me trying to be
useful; tell me if you think I shall succeed."

"What!" said Mrs. Weston, "have not you finished it yet? you would not
earn a very good livelihood as a working silversmith at this rate."

"I have not been working uninterruptedly," he replied, "I have been
assisting Miss Fairfax in trying to make her instrument stand steadily,
it was not quite firm; an unevenness in the floor, I believe.  You see
we have been wedging one leg with paper.  This was very kind of you to
be persuaded to come.  I was almost afraid you would be hurrying home."

He contrived that she should be seated by him; and was sufficiently
employed in looking out the best baked apple for her, and trying to
make her help or advise him in his work, till Jane Fairfax was quite
ready to sit down to the pianoforte again.  That she was not
immediately ready, Emma did suspect to arise from the state of her
nerves; she had not yet possessed the instrument long enough to touch
it without emotion; she must reason herself into the power of
performance; and Emma could not but pity such feelings, whatever their
origin, and could not but resolve never to expose them to her neighbour
again.

At last Jane began, and though the first bars were feebly given, the
powers of the instrument were gradually done full justice to.  Mrs.
Weston had been delighted before, and was delighted again; Emma joined
her in all her praise; and the pianoforte, with every proper
discrimination, was pronounced to be altogether of the highest promise.

"Whoever Colonel Campbell might employ," said Frank Churchill, with a
smile at Emma, "the person has not chosen ill.  I heard a good deal of
Colonel Campbell's taste at Weymouth; and the softness of the upper
notes I am sure is exactly what he and _all_ _that_ _party_ would
particularly prize.  I dare say, Miss Fairfax, that he either gave his
friend very minute directions, or wrote to Broadwood himself.  Do not
you think so?"

Jane did not look round.  She was not obliged to hear.  Mrs. Weston had
been speaking to her at the same moment.

"It is not fair," said Emma, in a whisper; "mine was a random guess.
Do not distress her."

He shook his head with a smile, and looked as if he had very little
doubt and very little mercy.  Soon afterwards he began again,

"How much your friends in Ireland must be enjoying your pleasure on
this occasion, Miss Fairfax.  I dare say they often think of you, and
wonder which will be the day, the precise day of the instrument's
coming to hand.  Do you imagine Colonel Campbell knows the business to
be going forward just at this time?--Do you imagine it to be the
consequence of an immediate commission from him, or that he may have
sent only a general direction, an order indefinite as to time, to
depend upon contingencies and conveniences?"

He paused.  She could not but hear; she could not avoid answering,

"Till I have a letter from Colonel Campbell," said she, in a voice of
forced calmness, "I can imagine nothing with any confidence.  It must
be all conjecture."

"Conjecture--aye, sometimes one conjectures right, and sometimes one
conjectures wrong.  I wish I could conjecture how soon I shall make
this rivet quite firm.  What nonsense one talks, Miss Woodhouse, when
hard at work, if one talks at all;--your real workmen, I suppose, hold
their tongues; but we gentlemen labourers if we get hold of a
word--Miss Fairfax said something about conjecturing.  There, it is
done.  I have the pleasure, madam, (to Mrs. Bates,) of restoring your
spectacles, healed for the present."

He was very warmly thanked both by mother and daughter; to escape a
little from the latter, he went to the pianoforte, and begged Miss
Fairfax, who was still sitting at it, to play something more.

"If you are very kind," said he, "it will be one of the waltzes we
danced last night;--let me live them over again.  You did not enjoy
them as I did; you appeared tired the whole time.  I believe you were
glad we danced no longer; but I would have given worlds--all the
worlds one ever has to give--for another half-hour."

She played.

"What felicity it is to hear a tune again which _has_ made one happy!--
If I mistake not that was danced at Weymouth."

She looked up at him for a moment, coloured deeply, and played
something else.  He took some music from a chair near the pianoforte,
and turning to Emma, said,

"Here is something quite new to me.  Do you know it?--Cramer.-- And
here are a new set of Irish melodies.  That, from such a quarter, one
might expect.  This was all sent with the instrument.  Very thoughtful
of Colonel Campbell, was not it?--He knew Miss Fairfax could have no
music here.  I honour that part of the attention particularly; it shews
it to have been so thoroughly from the heart.  Nothing hastily done;
nothing incomplete.  True affection only could have prompted it."

Emma wished he would be less pointed, yet could not help being amused;
and when on glancing her eye towards Jane Fairfax she caught the
remains of a smile, when she saw that with all the deep blush of
consciousness, there had been a smile of secret delight, she had less
scruple in the amusement, and much less compunction with respect to
her.--This amiable, upright, perfect Jane Fairfax was apparently
cherishing very reprehensible feelings.

He brought all the music to her, and they looked it over together.--
Emma took the opportunity of whispering,

"You speak too plain.  She must understand you."

"I hope she does.  I would have her understand me.  I am not in the
least ashamed of my meaning."

"But really, I am half ashamed, and wish I had never taken up the idea."

"I am very glad you did, and that you communicated it to me.  I have
now a key to all her odd looks and ways.  Leave shame to her.  If she
does wrong, she ought to feel it."

"She is not entirely without it, I think."

"I do not see much sign of it.  She is playing _Robin_ _Adair_ at this
moment--_his_ favourite."

Shortly afterwards Miss Bates, passing near the window, descried Mr.
Knightley on horse-back not far off.

"Mr. Knightley I declare!--I must speak to him if possible, just to
thank him.  I will not open the window here; it would give you all
cold; but I can go into my mother's room you know.  I dare say he will
come in when he knows who is here.  Quite delightful to have you all
meet so!--Our little room so honoured!"

She was in the adjoining chamber while she still spoke, and opening the
casement there, immediately called Mr. Knightley's attention, and every
syllable of their conversation was as distinctly heard by the others,
as if it had passed within the same apartment.

"How d' ye do?--how d'ye do?--Very well, I thank you.  So obliged to
you for the carriage last night.  We were just in time; my mother just
ready for us.  Pray come in; do come in.  You will find some friends
here."

So began Miss Bates; and Mr. Knightley seemed determined to be heard in
his turn, for most resolutely and commandingly did he say,

"How is your niece, Miss Bates?--I want to inquire after you all, but
particularly your niece.  How is Miss Fairfax?--I hope she caught no
cold last night.  How is she to-day? Tell me how Miss Fairfax is."

And Miss Bates was obliged to give a direct answer before he would hear
her in any thing else.  The listeners were amused; and Mrs. Weston gave
Emma a look of particular meaning.  But Emma still shook her head in
steady scepticism.

"So obliged to you!--so very much obliged to you for the carriage,"
resumed Miss Bates.

He cut her short with,

"I am going to Kingston.  Can I do any thing for you?"

"Oh! dear, Kingston--are you?--Mrs. Cole was saying the other day she
wanted something from Kingston."

"Mrs. Cole has servants to send.  Can I do any thing for _you_?"

"No, I thank you.  But do come in.  Who do you think is here?-- Miss
Woodhouse and Miss Smith; so kind as to call to hear the new
pianoforte.  Do put up your horse at the Crown, and come in."

"Well," said he, in a deliberating manner, "for five minutes, perhaps."

"And here is Mrs. Weston and Mr. Frank Churchill too!--Quite
delightful; so many friends!"

"No, not now, I thank you.  I could not stay two minutes.  I must get
on to Kingston as fast as I can."

"Oh! do come in.  They will be so very happy to see you."

"No, no; your room is full enough.  I will call another day, and hear
the pianoforte."

"Well, I am so sorry!--Oh!  Mr. Knightley, what a delightful party last
night; how extremely pleasant.--Did you ever see such dancing?-- Was
not it delightful?--Miss Woodhouse and Mr. Frank Churchill; I never saw
any thing equal to it."

"Oh! very delightful indeed; I can say nothing less, for I suppose Miss
Woodhouse and Mr. Frank Churchill are hearing every thing that passes.
And (raising his voice still more) I do not see why Miss Fairfax should
not be mentioned too.  I think Miss Fairfax dances very well; and Mrs.
Weston is the very best country-dance player, without exception, in
England.  Now, if your friends have any gratitude, they will say
something pretty loud about you and me in return; but I cannot stay to
hear it."

"Oh!  Mr. Knightley, one moment more; something of consequence--so
shocked!--Jane and I are both so shocked about the apples!"

"What is the matter now?"

"To think of your sending us all your store apples.  You said you had a
great many, and now you have not one left.  We really are so shocked!
Mrs. Hodges may well be angry.  William Larkins mentioned it here.  You
should not have done it, indeed you should not.  Ah! he is off.  He
never can bear to be thanked.  But I thought he would have staid now,
and it would have been a pity not to have mentioned. . . . Well,
(returning to the room,) I have not been able to succeed.  Mr.
Knightley cannot stop.  He is going to Kingston.  He asked me if he
could do any thing. . . ."

"Yes," said Jane, "we heard his kind offers, we heard every thing."

"Oh! yes, my dear, I dare say you might, because you know, the door was
open, and the window was open, and Mr. Knightley spoke loud.  You must
have heard every thing to be sure.  'Can I do any thing for you at
Kingston?' said he; so I just mentioned. . . . Oh!  Miss Woodhouse,
must you be going?--You seem but just come--so very obliging of you."

Emma found it really time to be at home; the visit had already lasted
long; and on examining watches, so much of the morning was perceived to
be gone, that Mrs. Weston and her companion taking leave also, could
allow themselves only to walk with the two young ladies to Hartfield
gates, before they set off for Randalls.



CHAPTER XI


It may be possible to do without dancing entirely.  Instances have been
known of young people passing many, many months successively, without
being at any ball of any description, and no material injury accrue
either to body or mind;--but when a beginning is made--when the
felicities of rapid motion have once been, though slightly, felt--it
must be a very heavy set that does not ask for more.

Frank Churchill had danced once at Highbury, and longed to dance again;
and the last half-hour of an evening which Mr. Woodhouse was persuaded
to spend with his daughter at Randalls, was passed by the two young
people in schemes on the subject.  Frank's was the first idea; and his
the greatest zeal in pursuing it; for the lady was the best judge of
the difficulties, and the most solicitous for accommodation and
appearance.  But still she had inclination enough for shewing people
again how delightfully Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss Woodhouse
danced--for doing that in which she need not blush to compare herself
with Jane Fairfax--and even for simple dancing itself, without any of
the wicked aids of vanity--to assist him first in pacing out the room
they were in to see what it could be made to hold--and then in taking
the dimensions of the other parlour, in the hope of discovering, in
spite of all that Mr. Weston could say of their exactly equal size,
that it was a little the largest.

His first proposition and request, that the dance begun at Mr. Cole's
should be finished there--that the same party should be collected, and
the same musician engaged, met with the readiest acquiescence.  Mr.
Weston entered into the idea with thorough enjoyment, and Mrs. Weston
most willingly undertook to play as long as they could wish to dance;
and the interesting employment had followed, of reckoning up exactly
who there would be, and portioning out the indispensable division of
space to every couple.

"You and Miss Smith, and Miss Fairfax, will be three, and the two Miss
Coxes five," had been repeated many times over.  "And there will be the
two Gilberts, young Cox, my father, and myself, besides Mr. Knightley.
Yes, that will be quite enough for pleasure.  You and Miss Smith, and
Miss Fairfax, will be three, and the two Miss Coxes five; and for five
couple there will be plenty of room."

But soon it came to be on one side,

"But will there be good room for five couple?--I really do not think
there will."

On another,

"And after all, five couple are not enough to make it worth while to
stand up.  Five couple are nothing, when one thinks seriously about it.
It will not do to _invite_ five couple.  It can be allowable only as
the thought of the moment."

Somebody said that _Miss_ Gilbert was expected at her brother's, and
must be invited with the rest.  Somebody else believed _Mrs_. Gilbert
would have danced the other evening, if she had been asked.  A word was
put in for a second young Cox; and at last, Mr. Weston naming one
family of cousins who must be included, and another of very old
acquaintance who could not be left out, it became a certainty that the
five couple would be at least ten, and a very interesting speculation
in what possible manner they could be disposed of.

The doors of the two rooms were just opposite each other.  "Might not
they use both rooms, and dance across the passage?" It seemed the best
scheme; and yet it was not so good but that many of them wanted a
better.  Emma said it would be awkward; Mrs. Weston was in distress
about the supper; and Mr. Woodhouse opposed it earnestly, on the score
of health.  It made him so very unhappy, indeed, that it could not be
persevered in.

"Oh! no," said he; "it would be the extreme of imprudence.  I could not
bear it for Emma!--Emma is not strong.  She would catch a dreadful
cold.  So would poor little Harriet.  So you would all.  Mrs. Weston,
you would be quite laid up; do not let them talk of such a wild thing.
Pray do not let them talk of it.  That young man (speaking lower) is
very thoughtless.  Do not tell his father, but that young man is not
quite the thing.  He has been opening the doors very often this
evening, and keeping them open very inconsiderately.  He does not think
of the draught.  I do not mean to set you against him, but indeed he is
not quite the thing!"

Mrs. Weston was sorry for such a charge.  She knew the importance of
it, and said every thing in her power to do it away.  Every door was
now closed, the passage plan given up, and the first scheme of dancing
only in the room they were in resorted to again; and with such
good-will on Frank Churchill's part, that the space which a quarter of
an hour before had been deemed barely sufficient for five couple, was
now endeavoured to be made out quite enough for ten.

"We were too magnificent," said he.  "We allowed unnecessary room.  Ten
couple may stand here very well."

Emma demurred.  "It would be a crowd--a sad crowd; and what could be
worse than dancing without space to turn in?"

"Very true," he gravely replied; "it was very bad."  But still he went
on measuring, and still he ended with,

"I think there will be very tolerable room for ten couple."

"No, no," said she, "you are quite unreasonable.  It would be dreadful
to be standing so close!  Nothing can be farther from pleasure than to
be dancing in a crowd--and a crowd in a little room!"

"There is no denying it," he replied.  "I agree with you exactly.  A
crowd in a little room--Miss Woodhouse, you have the art of giving
pictures in a few words.  Exquisite, quite exquisite!--Still, however,
having proceeded so far, one is unwilling to give the matter up.  It
would be a disappointment to my father--and altogether--I do not know
that--I am rather of opinion that ten couple might stand here very
well."

Emma perceived that the nature of his gallantry was a little
self-willed, and that he would rather oppose than lose the pleasure of
dancing with her; but she took the compliment, and forgave the rest.
Had she intended ever to _marry_ him, it might have been worth while to
pause and consider, and try to understand the value of his preference,
and the character of his temper; but for all the purposes of their
acquaintance, he was quite amiable enough.

Before the middle of the next day, he was at Hartfield; and he entered
the room with such an agreeable smile as certified the continuance of
the scheme.  It soon appeared that he came to announce an improvement.

"Well, Miss Woodhouse," he almost immediately began, "your inclination
for dancing has not been quite frightened away, I hope, by the terrors
of my father's little rooms.  I bring a new proposal on the subject:--a
thought of my father's, which waits only your approbation to be acted
upon.  May I hope for the honour of your hand for the two first dances
of this little projected ball, to be given, not at Randalls, but at the
Crown Inn?"

"The Crown!"

"Yes; if you and Mr. Woodhouse see no objection, and I trust you
cannot, my father hopes his friends will be so kind as to visit him
there.  Better accommodations, he can promise them, and not a less
grateful welcome than at Randalls.  It is his own idea.  Mrs. Weston
sees no objection to it, provided you are satisfied.  This is what we
all feel.  Oh! you were perfectly right!  Ten couple, in either of the
Randalls rooms, would have been insufferable!--Dreadful!--I felt how
right you were the whole time, but was too anxious for securing _any_
_thing_ to like to yield.  Is not it a good exchange?--You consent--I
hope you consent?"

"It appears to me a plan that nobody can object to, if Mr. and Mrs.
Weston do not.  I think it admirable; and, as far as I can answer for
myself, shall be most happy--It seems the only improvement that could
be.  Papa, do you not think it an excellent improvement?"

She was obliged to repeat and explain it, before it was fully
comprehended; and then, being quite new, farther representations were
necessary to make it acceptable.

"No; he thought it very far from an improvement--a very bad plan--much
worse than the other.  A room at an inn was always damp and dangerous;
never properly aired, or fit to be inhabited.  If they must dance, they
had better dance at Randalls.  He had never been in the room at the
Crown in his life--did not know the people who kept it by sight.--Oh!
no--a very bad plan.  They would catch worse colds at the Crown than
anywhere."

"I was going to observe, sir," said Frank Churchill, "that one of the
great recommendations of this change would be the very little danger of
any body's catching cold--so much less danger at the Crown than at
Randalls!  Mr. Perry might have reason to regret the alteration, but
nobody else could."

"Sir," said Mr. Woodhouse, rather warmly, "you are very much mistaken
if you suppose Mr. Perry to be that sort of character.  Mr. Perry is
extremely concerned when any of us are ill.  But I do not understand
how the room at the Crown can be safer for you than your father's
house."

"From the very circumstance of its being larger, sir.  We shall have no
occasion to open the windows at all--not once the whole evening; and it
is that dreadful habit of opening the windows, letting in cold air upon
heated bodies, which (as you well know, sir) does the mischief."

"Open the windows!--but surely, Mr. Churchill, nobody would think of
opening the windows at Randalls.  Nobody could be so imprudent!  I
never heard of such a thing.  Dancing with open windows!--I am sure,
neither your father nor Mrs. Weston (poor Miss Taylor that was) would
suffer it."

"Ah! sir--but a thoughtless young person will sometimes step behind a
window-curtain, and throw up a sash, without its being suspected.  I
have often known it done myself."

"Have you indeed, sir?--Bless me!  I never could have supposed it.  But
I live out of the world, and am often astonished at what I hear.
However, this does make a difference; and, perhaps, when we come to
talk it over--but these sort of things require a good deal of
consideration.  One cannot resolve upon them in a hurry.  If Mr. and
Mrs. Weston will be so obliging as to call here one morning, we may
talk it over, and see what can be done."

"But, unfortunately, sir, my time is so limited--"

"Oh!" interrupted Emma, "there will be plenty of time for talking every
thing over.  There is no hurry at all.  If it can be contrived to be at
the Crown, papa, it will be very convenient for the horses.  They will
be so near their own stable."

"So they will, my dear.  That is a great thing.  Not that James ever
complains; but it is right to spare our horses when we can.  If I could
be sure of the rooms being thoroughly aired--but is Mrs. Stokes to be
trusted?  I doubt it.  I do not know her, even by sight."

"I can answer for every thing of that nature, sir, because it will be
under Mrs. Weston's care.  Mrs. Weston undertakes to direct the whole."

"There, papa!--Now you must be satisfied--Our own dear Mrs. Weston, who
is carefulness itself.  Do not you remember what Mr. Perry said, so
many years ago, when I had the measles?  'If _Miss_ _Taylor_ undertakes
to wrap Miss Emma up, you need not have any fears, sir.'  How often
have I heard you speak of it as such a compliment to her!"

"Aye, very true.  Mr. Perry did say so.  I shall never forget it.  Poor
little Emma!  You were very bad with the measles; that is, you would
have been very bad, but for Perry's great attention.  He came four
times a day for a week.  He said, from the first, it was a very good
sort--which was our great comfort; but the measles are a dreadful
complaint.  I hope whenever poor Isabella's little ones have the
measles, she will send for Perry."

"My father and Mrs. Weston are at the Crown at this moment," said Frank
Churchill, "examining the capabilities of the house.  I left them there
and came on to Hartfield, impatient for your opinion, and hoping you
might be persuaded to join them and give your advice on the spot.  I
was desired to say so from both.  It would be the greatest pleasure to
them, if you could allow me to attend you there.  They can do nothing
satisfactorily without you."

Emma was most happy to be called to such a council; and her father,
engaging to think it all over while she was gone, the two young people
set off together without delay for the Crown.  There were Mr. and Mrs.
Weston; delighted to see her and receive her approbation, very busy and
very happy in their different way; she, in some little distress; and
he, finding every thing perfect.

"Emma," said she, "this paper is worse than I expected.  Look! in
places you see it is dreadfully dirty; and the wainscot is more yellow
and forlorn than any thing I could have imagined."

"My dear, you are too particular," said her husband.  "What does all
that signify?  You will see nothing of it by candlelight.  It will be
as clean as Randalls by candlelight.  We never see any thing of it on
our club-nights."

The ladies here probably exchanged looks which meant, "Men never know
when things are dirty or not;" and the gentlemen perhaps thought each
to himself, "Women will have their little nonsenses and needless cares."

One perplexity, however, arose, which the gentlemen did not disdain.
It regarded a supper-room.  At the time of the ballroom's being built,
suppers had not been in question; and a small card-room adjoining, was
the only addition.  What was to be done?  This card-room would be
wanted as a card-room now; or, if cards were conveniently voted
unnecessary by their four selves, still was it not too small for any
comfortable supper?  Another room of much better size might be secured
for the purpose; but it was at the other end of the house, and a long
awkward passage must be gone through to get at it.  This made a
difficulty.  Mrs. Weston was afraid of draughts for the young people in
that passage; and neither Emma nor the gentlemen could tolerate the
prospect of being miserably crowded at supper.

Mrs. Weston proposed having no regular supper; merely sandwiches, &c.,
set out in the little room; but that was scouted as a wretched
suggestion.  A private dance, without sitting down to supper, was
pronounced an infamous fraud upon the rights of men and women; and Mrs.
Weston must not speak of it again.  She then took another line of
expediency, and looking into the doubtful room, observed,

"I do not think it _is_ so very small.  We shall not be many, you know."

And Mr. Weston at the same time, walking briskly with long steps
through the passage, was calling out,

"You talk a great deal of the length of this passage, my dear.  It is a
mere nothing after all; and not the least draught from the stairs."

"I wish," said Mrs. Weston, "one could know which arrangement our
guests in general would like best.  To do what would be most generally
pleasing must be our object--if one could but tell what that would be."

"Yes, very true," cried Frank, "very true.  You want your neighbours'
opinions.  I do not wonder at you.  If one could ascertain what the
chief of them--the Coles, for instance.  They are not far off.  Shall I
call upon them?  Or Miss Bates?  She is still nearer.-- And I do not
know whether Miss Bates is not as likely to understand the inclinations
of the rest of the people as any body.  I think we do want a larger
council.  Suppose I go and invite Miss Bates to join us?"

"Well--if you please," said Mrs. Weston rather hesitating, "if you
think she will be of any use."

"You will get nothing to the purpose from Miss Bates," said Emma.  "She
will be all delight and gratitude, but she will tell you nothing.  She
will not even listen to your questions.  I see no advantage in
consulting Miss Bates."

"But she is so amusing, so extremely amusing!  I am very fond of
hearing Miss Bates talk.  And I need not bring the whole family, you
know."

Here Mr. Weston joined them, and on hearing what was proposed, gave it
his decided approbation.

"Aye, do, Frank.--Go and fetch Miss Bates, and let us end the matter at
once.  She will enjoy the scheme, I am sure; and I do not know a
properer person for shewing us how to do away difficulties.  Fetch Miss
Bates.  We are growing a little too nice.  She is a standing lesson of
how to be happy.  But fetch them both.  Invite them both."

"Both sir!  Can the old lady?" . . .

"The old lady!  No, the young lady, to be sure.  I shall think you a
great blockhead, Frank, if you bring the aunt without the niece."

"Oh!  I beg your pardon, sir.  I did not immediately recollect.
Undoubtedly if you wish it, I will endeavour to persuade them both."
And away he ran.

Long before he reappeared, attending the short, neat, brisk-moving
aunt, and her elegant niece,--Mrs. Weston, like a sweet-tempered woman
and a good wife, had examined the passage again, and found the evils of
it much less than she had supposed before--indeed very trifling; and
here ended the difficulties of decision.  All the rest, in speculation
at least, was perfectly smooth.  All the minor arrangements of table
and chair, lights and music, tea and supper, made themselves; or were
left as mere trifles to be settled at any time between Mrs. Weston and
Mrs. Stokes.-- Every body invited, was certainly to come; Frank had
already written to Enscombe to propose staying a few days beyond his
fortnight, which could not possibly be refused.  And a delightful dance
it was to be.

Most cordially, when Miss Bates arrived, did she agree that it must.
As a counsellor she was not wanted; but as an approver, (a much safer
character,) she was truly welcome.  Her approbation, at once general
and minute, warm and incessant, could not but please; and for another
half-hour they were all walking to and fro, between the different
rooms, some suggesting, some attending, and all in happy enjoyment of
the future.  The party did not break up without Emma's being positively
secured for the two first dances by the hero of the evening, nor
without her overhearing Mr. Weston whisper to his wife, "He has asked
her, my dear.  That's right.  I knew he would!"



CHAPTER XII


One thing only was wanting to make the prospect of the ball completely
satisfactory to Emma--its being fixed for a day within the granted term
of Frank Churchill's stay in Surry; for, in spite of Mr. Weston's
confidence, she could not think it so very impossible that the
Churchills might not allow their nephew to remain a day beyond his
fortnight.  But this was not judged feasible.  The preparations must
take their time, nothing could be properly ready till the third week
were entered on, and for a few days they must be planning, proceeding
and hoping in uncertainty--at the risk--in her opinion, the great
risk, of its being all in vain.

Enscombe however was gracious, gracious in fact, if not in word.  His
wish of staying longer evidently did not please; but it was not
opposed.  All was safe and prosperous; and as the removal of one
solicitude generally makes way for another, Emma, being now certain of
her ball, began to adopt as the next vexation Mr. Knightley's provoking
indifference about it.  Either because he did not dance himself, or
because the plan had been formed without his being consulted, he seemed
resolved that it should not interest him, determined against its
exciting any present curiosity, or affording him any future amusement.
To her voluntary communications Emma could get no more approving reply,
than,

"Very well.  If the Westons think it worth while to be at all this
trouble for a few hours of noisy entertainment, I have nothing to say
against it, but that they shall not chuse pleasures for me.-- Oh! yes,
I must be there; I could not refuse; and I will keep as much awake as I
can; but I would rather be at home, looking over William Larkins's
week's account; much rather, I confess.-- Pleasure in seeing
dancing!--not I, indeed--I never look at it-- I do not know who
does.--Fine dancing, I believe, like virtue, must be its own reward.
Those who are standing by are usually thinking of something very
different."

This Emma felt was aimed at her; and it made her quite angry.  It was
not in compliment to Jane Fairfax however that he was so indifferent,
or so indignant; he was not guided by _her_ feelings in reprobating the
ball, for _she_ enjoyed the thought of it to an extraordinary degree.
It made her animated--open hearted--she voluntarily said;--

"Oh!  Miss Woodhouse, I hope nothing may happen to prevent the ball.
What a disappointment it would be!  I do look forward to it, I own,
with _very_ great pleasure."

It was not to oblige Jane Fairfax therefore that he would have
preferred the society of William Larkins.  No!--she was more and more
convinced that Mrs. Weston was quite mistaken in that surmise.  There
was a great deal of friendly and of compassionate attachment on his
side--but no love.

Alas! there was soon no leisure for quarrelling with Mr. Knightley.
Two days of joyful security were immediately followed by the over-throw
of every thing.  A letter arrived from Mr. Churchill to urge his
nephew's instant return.  Mrs. Churchill was unwell--far too unwell to
do without him; she had been in a very suffering state (so said her
husband) when writing to her nephew two days before, though from her
usual unwillingness to give pain, and constant habit of never thinking
of herself, she had not mentioned it; but now she was too ill to
trifle, and must entreat him to set off for Enscombe without delay.

The substance of this letter was forwarded to Emma, in a note from Mrs.
Weston, instantly.  As to his going, it was inevitable.  He must be
gone within a few hours, though without feeling any real alarm for his
aunt, to lessen his repugnance.  He knew her illnesses; they never
occurred but for her own convenience.

Mrs. Weston added, "that he could only allow himself time to hurry to
Highbury, after breakfast, and take leave of the few friends there whom
he could suppose to feel any interest in him; and that he might be
expected at Hartfield very soon."

This wretched note was the finale of Emma's breakfast.  When once it
had been read, there was no doing any thing, but lament and exclaim.
The loss of the ball--the loss of the young man--and all that the
young man might be feeling!--It was too wretched!-- Such a delightful
evening as it would have been!--Every body so happy!  and she and her
partner the happiest!--"I said it would be so," was the only
consolation.

Her father's feelings were quite distinct.  He thought principally of
Mrs. Churchill's illness, and wanted to know how she was treated; and
as for the ball, it was shocking to have dear Emma disappointed; but
they would all be safer at home.

Emma was ready for her visitor some time before he appeared; but if
this reflected at all upon his impatience, his sorrowful look and total
want of spirits when he did come might redeem him.  He felt the going
away almost too much to speak of it.  His dejection was most evident.
He sat really lost in thought for the first few minutes; and when
rousing himself, it was only to say,

"Of all horrid things, leave-taking is the worst."

"But you will come again," said Emma.  "This will not be your only
visit to Randalls."

"Ah!--(shaking his head)--the uncertainty of when I may be able to
return!--I shall try for it with a zeal!--It will be the object of all
my thoughts and cares!--and if my uncle and aunt go to town this
spring--but I am afraid--they did not stir last spring-- I am afraid it
is a custom gone for ever."

"Our poor ball must be quite given up."

"Ah! that ball!--why did we wait for any thing?--why not seize the
pleasure at once?--How often is happiness destroyed by preparation,
foolish preparation!--You told us it would be so.--Oh!  Miss Woodhouse,
why are you always so right?"

"Indeed, I am very sorry to be right in this instance.  I would much
rather have been merry than wise."

"If I can come again, we are still to have our ball.  My father depends
on it.  Do not forget your engagement."

Emma looked graciously.

"Such a fortnight as it has been!" he continued; "every day more
precious and more delightful than the day before!--every day making me
less fit to bear any other place.  Happy those, who can remain at
Highbury!"

"As you do us such ample justice now," said Emma, laughing, "I will
venture to ask, whether you did not come a little doubtfully at first?
Do not we rather surpass your expectations?  I am sure we do.  I am
sure you did not much expect to like us.  You would not have been so
long in coming, if you had had a pleasant idea of Highbury."

He laughed rather consciously; and though denying the sentiment, Emma
was convinced that it had been so.

"And you must be off this very morning?"

"Yes; my father is to join me here:  we shall walk back together, and I
must be off immediately.  I am almost afraid that every moment will
bring him."

"Not five minutes to spare even for your friends Miss Fairfax and Miss
Bates?  How unlucky!  Miss Bates's powerful, argumentative mind might
have strengthened yours."

"Yes--I _have_ called there; passing the door, I thought it better.  It
was a right thing to do.  I went in for three minutes, and was detained
by Miss Bates's being absent.  She was out; and I felt it impossible
not to wait till she came in.  She is a woman that one may, that one
_must_ laugh at; but that one would not wish to slight.  It was better
to pay my visit, then"--

He hesitated, got up, walked to a window.

"In short," said he, "perhaps, Miss Woodhouse--I think you can hardly
be quite without suspicion"--

He looked at her, as if wanting to read her thoughts.  She hardly knew
what to say.  It seemed like the forerunner of something absolutely
serious, which she did not wish.  Forcing herself to speak, therefore,
in the hope of putting it by, she calmly said,

"You are quite in the right; it was most natural to pay your visit,
then"--

He was silent.  She believed he was looking at her; probably reflecting
on what she had said, and trying to understand the manner.  She heard
him sigh.  It was natural for him to feel that he had _cause_ to sigh.
He could not believe her to be encouraging him.  A few awkward moments
passed, and he sat down again; and in a more determined manner said,

"It was something to feel that all the rest of my time might be given
to Hartfield.  My regard for Hartfield is most warm"--

He stopt again, rose again, and seemed quite embarrassed.-- He was more
in love with her than Emma had supposed; and who can say how it might
have ended, if his father had not made his appearance?  Mr. Woodhouse
soon followed; and the necessity of exertion made him composed.

A very few minutes more, however, completed the present trial.  Mr.
Weston, always alert when business was to be done, and as incapable of
procrastinating any evil that was inevitable, as of foreseeing any that
was doubtful, said, "It was time to go;" and the young man, though he
might and did sigh, could not but agree, to take leave.

"I shall hear about you all," said he; "that is my chief consolation.
I shall hear of every thing that is going on among you.  I have engaged
Mrs. Weston to correspond with me.  She has been so kind as to promise
it.  Oh! the blessing of a female correspondent, when one is really
interested in the absent!--she will tell me every thing.  In her
letters I shall be at dear Highbury again."

A very friendly shake of the hand, a very earnest "Good-bye," closed
the speech, and the door had soon shut out Frank Churchill.  Short had
been the notice--short their meeting; he was gone; and Emma felt so
sorry to part, and foresaw so great a loss to their little society from
his absence as to begin to be afraid of being too sorry, and feeling it
too much.

It was a sad change.  They had been meeting almost every day since his
arrival.  Certainly his being at Randalls had given great spirit to the
last two weeks--indescribable spirit; the idea, the expectation of
seeing him which every morning had brought, the assurance of his
attentions, his liveliness, his manners!  It had been a very happy
fortnight, and forlorn must be the sinking from it into the common
course of Hartfield days.  To complete every other recommendation, he
had _almost_ told her that he loved her.  What strength, or what
constancy of affection he might be subject to, was another point; but
at present she could not doubt his having a decidedly warm admiration,
a conscious preference of herself; and this persuasion, joined to all
the rest, made her think that she _must_ be a little in love with him,
in spite of every previous determination against it.

"I certainly must," said she.  "This sensation of listlessness,
weariness, stupidity, this disinclination to sit down and employ
myself, this feeling of every thing's being dull and insipid about the
house!-- I must be in love; I should be the oddest creature in the
world if I were not--for a few weeks at least.  Well! evil to some is
always good to others.  I shall have many fellow-mourners for the ball,
if not for Frank Churchill; but Mr. Knightley will be happy.  He may
spend the evening with his dear William Larkins now if he likes."

Mr. Knightley, however, shewed no triumphant happiness.  He could not
say that he was sorry on his own account; his very cheerful look would
have contradicted him if he had; but he said, and very steadily, that
he was sorry for the disappointment of the others, and with
considerable kindness added,

"You, Emma, who have so few opportunities of dancing, you are really
out of luck; you are very much out of luck!"

It was some days before she saw Jane Fairfax, to judge of her honest
regret in this woeful change; but when they did meet, her composure was
odious.  She had been particularly unwell, however, suffering from
headache to a degree, which made her aunt declare, that had the ball
taken place, she did not think Jane could have attended it; and it was
charity to impute some of her unbecoming indifference to the languor of
ill-health.



CHAPTER XIII


Emma continued to entertain no doubt of her being in love.  Her ideas
only varied as to the how much.  At first, she thought it was a good
deal; and afterwards, but little.  She had great pleasure in hearing
Frank Churchill talked of; and, for his sake, greater pleasure than
ever in seeing Mr. and Mrs. Weston; she was very often thinking of him,
and quite impatient for a letter, that she might know how he was, how
were his spirits, how was his aunt, and what was the chance of his
coming to Randalls again this spring.  But, on the other hand, she
could not admit herself to be unhappy, nor, after the first morning, to
be less disposed for employment than usual; she was still busy and
cheerful; and, pleasing as he was, she could yet imagine him to have
faults; and farther, though thinking of him so much, and, as she sat
drawing or working, forming a thousand amusing schemes for the progress
and close of their attachment, fancying interesting dialogues, and
inventing elegant letters; the conclusion of every imaginary
declaration on his side was that she _refused_ _him_.  Their affection
was always to subside into friendship.  Every thing tender and charming
was to mark their parting; but still they were to part.  When she
became sensible of this, it struck her that she could not be very much
in love; for in spite of her previous and fixed determination never to
quit her father, never to marry, a strong attachment certainly must
produce more of a struggle than she could foresee in her own feelings.

"I do not find myself making any use of the word _sacrifice_," said
she.-- "In not one of all my clever replies, my delicate negatives, is
there any allusion to making a sacrifice.  I do suspect that he is not
really necessary to my happiness.  So much the better.  I certainly
will not persuade myself to feel more than I do.  I am quite enough in
love.  I should be sorry to be more."

Upon the whole, she was equally contented with her view of his feelings.

"_He_ is undoubtedly very much in love--every thing denotes it--very
much in love indeed!--and when he comes again, if his affection
continue, I must be on my guard not to encourage it.--It would be most
inexcusable to do otherwise, as my own mind is quite made up.  Not that
I imagine he can think I have been encouraging him hitherto.  No, if he
had believed me at all to share his feelings, he would not have been so
wretched.  Could he have thought himself encouraged, his looks and
language at parting would have been different.-- Still, however, I must
be on my guard.  This is in the supposition of his attachment
continuing what it now is; but I do not know that I expect it will; I
do not look upon him to be quite the sort of man-- I do not altogether
build upon his steadiness or constancy.-- His feelings are warm, but I
can imagine them rather changeable.-- Every consideration of the
subject, in short, makes me thankful that my happiness is not more
deeply involved.--I shall do very well again after a little while--and
then, it will be a good thing over; for they say every body is in love
once in their lives, and I shall have been let off easily."

When his letter to Mrs. Weston arrived, Emma had the perusal of it; and
she read it with a degree of pleasure and admiration which made her at
first shake her head over her own sensations, and think she had
undervalued their strength.  It was a long, well-written letter, giving
the particulars of his journey and of his feelings, expressing all the
affection, gratitude, and respect which was natural and honourable, and
describing every thing exterior and local that could be supposed
attractive, with spirit and precision.  No suspicious flourishes now of
apology or concern; it was the language of real feeling towards Mrs.
Weston; and the transition from Highbury to Enscombe, the contrast
between the places in some of the first blessings of social life was
just enough touched on to shew how keenly it was felt, and how much
more might have been said but for the restraints of propriety.--The
charm of her own name was not wanting.  _Miss_ _Woodhouse_ appeared
more than once, and never without a something of pleasing connexion,
either a compliment to her taste, or a remembrance of what she had
said; and in the very last time of its meeting her eye, unadorned as it
was by any such broad wreath of gallantry, she yet could discern the
effect of her influence and acknowledge the greatest compliment perhaps
of all conveyed.  Compressed into the very lowest vacant corner were
these words--"I had not a spare moment on Tuesday, as you know, for
Miss Woodhouse's beautiful little friend.  Pray make my excuses and
adieus to her."  This, Emma could not doubt, was all for herself.
Harriet was remembered only from being _her_ friend.  His information
and prospects as to Enscombe were neither worse nor better than had
been anticipated; Mrs. Churchill was recovering, and he dared not yet,
even in his own imagination, fix a time for coming to Randalls again.

Gratifying, however, and stimulative as was the letter in the material
part, its sentiments, she yet found, when it was folded up and returned
to Mrs. Weston, that it had not added any lasting warmth, that she
could still do without the writer, and that he must learn to do without
her.  Her intentions were unchanged.  Her resolution of refusal only
grew more interesting by the addition of a scheme for his subsequent
consolation and happiness.  His recollection of Harriet, and the words
which clothed it, the "beautiful little friend," suggested to her the
idea of Harriet's succeeding her in his affections.  Was it
impossible?--No.--Harriet undoubtedly was greatly his inferior in
understanding; but he had been very much struck with the loveliness of
her face and the warm simplicity of her manner; and all the
probabilities of circumstance and connexion were in her favour.--For
Harriet, it would be advantageous and delightful indeed.

"I must not dwell upon it," said she.--"I must not think of it.  I know
the danger of indulging such speculations.  But stranger things have
happened; and when we cease to care for each other as we do now, it
will be the means of confirming us in that sort of true disinterested
friendship which I can already look forward to with pleasure."

It was well to have a comfort in store on Harriet's behalf, though it
might be wise to let the fancy touch it seldom; for evil in that
quarter was at hand.  As Frank Churchill's arrival had succeeded Mr.
Elton's engagement in the conversation of Highbury, as the latest
interest had entirely borne down the first, so now upon Frank
Churchill's disappearance, Mr. Elton's concerns were assuming the most
irresistible form.--His wedding-day was named.  He would soon be among
them again; Mr. Elton and his bride.  There was hardly time to talk
over the first letter from Enscombe before "Mr. Elton and his bride"
was in every body's mouth, and Frank Churchill was forgotten.  Emma
grew sick at the sound.  She had had three weeks of happy exemption
from Mr. Elton; and Harriet's mind, she had been willing to hope, had
been lately gaining strength.  With Mr. Weston's ball in view at least,
there had been a great deal of insensibility to other things; but it
was now too evident that she had not attained such a state of composure
as could stand against the actual approach--new carriage, bell-ringing,
and all.

Poor Harriet was in a flutter of spirits which required all the
reasonings and soothings and attentions of every kind that Emma could
give.  Emma felt that she could not do too much for her, that Harriet
had a right to all her ingenuity and all her patience; but it was heavy
work to be for ever convincing without producing any effect, for ever
agreed to, without being able to make their opinions the same.  Harriet
listened submissively, and said "it was very true--it was just as Miss
Woodhouse described--it was not worth while to think about them--and
she would not think about them any longer" but no change of subject
could avail, and the next half-hour saw her as anxious and restless
about the Eltons as before.  At last Emma attacked her on another
ground.

"Your allowing yourself to be so occupied and so unhappy about Mr.
Elton's marrying, Harriet, is the strongest reproach you can make _me_.
You could not give me a greater reproof for the mistake I fell into.
It was all my doing, I know.  I have not forgotten it, I assure
you.--Deceived myself, I did very miserably deceive you--and it will
be a painful reflection to me for ever.  Do not imagine me in danger of
forgetting it."

Harriet felt this too much to utter more than a few words of eager
exclamation.  Emma continued,

"I have not said, exert yourself Harriet for my sake; think less, talk
less of Mr. Elton for my sake; because for your own sake rather, I
would wish it to be done, for the sake of what is more important than
my comfort, a habit of self-command in you, a consideration of what is
your duty, an attention to propriety, an endeavour to avoid the
suspicions of others, to save your health and credit, and restore your
tranquillity.  These are the motives which I have been pressing on you.
They are very important--and sorry I am that you cannot feel them
sufficiently to act upon them.  My being saved from pain is a very
secondary consideration.  I want you to save yourself from greater
pain.  Perhaps I may sometimes have felt that Harriet would not forget
what was due--or rather what would be kind by me."

This appeal to her affections did more than all the rest.  The idea of
wanting gratitude and consideration for Miss Woodhouse, whom she really
loved extremely, made her wretched for a while, and when the violence
of grief was comforted away, still remained powerful enough to prompt
to what was right and support her in it very tolerably.

"You, who have been the best friend I ever had in my life-- Want
gratitude to you!--Nobody is equal to you!--I care for nobody as I do
for you!--Oh!  Miss Woodhouse, how ungrateful I have been!"

Such expressions, assisted as they were by every thing that look and
manner could do, made Emma feel that she had never loved Harriet so
well, nor valued her affection so highly before.

"There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart," said she afterwards
to herself.  "There is nothing to be compared to it.  Warmth and
tenderness of heart, with an affectionate, open manner, will beat all
the clearness of head in the world, for attraction, I am sure it will.
It is tenderness of heart which makes my dear father so generally
beloved--which gives Isabella all her popularity.-- I have it not--but
I know how to prize and respect it.--Harriet is my superior in all the
charm and all the felicity it gives.  Dear Harriet!--I would not change
you for the clearest-headed, longest-sighted, best-judging female
breathing.  Oh! the coldness of a Jane Fairfax!--Harriet is worth a
hundred such--And for a wife--a sensible man's wife--it is invaluable.
I mention no names; but happy the man who changes Emma for Harriet!"



CHAPTER XIV


Mrs. Elton was first seen at church:  but though devotion might be
interrupted, curiosity could not be satisfied by a bride in a pew, and
it must be left for the visits in form which were then to be paid, to
settle whether she were very pretty indeed, or only rather pretty, or
not pretty at all.

Emma had feelings, less of curiosity than of pride or propriety, to
make her resolve on not being the last to pay her respects; and she
made a point of Harriet's going with her, that the worst of the
business might be gone through as soon as possible.

She could not enter the house again, could not be in the same room to
which she had with such vain artifice retreated three months ago, to
lace up her boot, without _recollecting_.  A thousand vexatious
thoughts would recur.  Compliments, charades, and horrible blunders;
and it was not to be supposed that poor Harriet should not be
recollecting too; but she behaved very well, and was only rather pale
and silent.  The visit was of course short; and there was so much
embarrassment and occupation of mind to shorten it, that Emma would not
allow herself entirely to form an opinion of the lady, and on no
account to give one, beyond the nothing-meaning terms of being
"elegantly dressed, and very pleasing."

She did not really like her.  She would not be in a hurry to find
fault, but she suspected that there was no elegance;--ease, but not
elegance.-- She was almost sure that for a young woman, a stranger, a
bride, there was too much ease.  Her person was rather good; her face
not unpretty; but neither feature, nor air, nor voice, nor manner, were
elegant.  Emma thought at least it would turn out so.

As for Mr. Elton, his manners did not appear--but no, she would not
permit a hasty or a witty word from herself about his manners.  It was
an awkward ceremony at any time to be receiving wedding visits, and a
man had need be all grace to acquit himself well through it.  The woman
was better off; she might have the assistance of fine clothes, and the
privilege of bashfulness, but the man had only his own good sense to
depend on; and when she considered how peculiarly unlucky poor Mr.
Elton was in being in the same room at once with the woman he had just
married, the woman he had wanted to marry, and the woman whom he had
been expected to marry, she must allow him to have the right to look as
little wise, and to be as much affectedly, and as little really easy as
could be.

"Well, Miss Woodhouse," said Harriet, when they had quitted the house,
and after waiting in vain for her friend to begin; "Well, Miss
Woodhouse, (with a gentle sigh,) what do you think of her?-- Is not she
very charming?"

There was a little hesitation in Emma's answer.

"Oh! yes--very--a very pleasing young woman."

"I think her beautiful, quite beautiful."

"Very nicely dressed, indeed; a remarkably elegant gown."

"I am not at all surprized that he should have fallen in love."

"Oh! no--there is nothing to surprize one at all.--A pretty fortune;
and she came in his way."

"I dare say," returned Harriet, sighing again, "I dare say she was very
much attached to him."

"Perhaps she might; but it is not every man's fate to marry the woman
who loves him best.  Miss Hawkins perhaps wanted a home, and thought
this the best offer she was likely to have."

"Yes," said Harriet earnestly, "and well she might, nobody could ever
have a better.  Well, I wish them happy with all my heart.  And now,
Miss Woodhouse, I do not think I shall mind seeing them again.  He is
just as superior as ever;--but being married, you know, it is quite a
different thing.  No, indeed, Miss Woodhouse, you need not be afraid; I
can sit and admire him now without any great misery.  To know that he
has not thrown himself away, is such a comfort!-- She does seem a
charming young woman, just what he deserves.  Happy creature!  He
called her 'Augusta.'  How delightful!"

When the visit was returned, Emma made up her mind.  She could then see
more and judge better.  From Harriet's happening not to be at
Hartfield, and her father's being present to engage Mr. Elton, she had
a quarter of an hour of the lady's conversation to herself, and could
composedly attend to her; and the quarter of an hour quite convinced
her that Mrs. Elton was a vain woman, extremely well satisfied with
herself, and thinking much of her own importance; that she meant to
shine and be very superior, but with manners which had been formed in a
bad school, pert and familiar; that all her notions were drawn from one
set of people, and one style of living; that if not foolish she was
ignorant, and that her society would certainly do Mr. Elton no good.

Harriet would have been a better match.  If not wise or refined
herself, she would have connected him with those who were; but Miss
Hawkins, it might be fairly supposed from her easy conceit, had been
the best of her own set.  The rich brother-in-law near Bristol was the
pride of the alliance, and his place and his carriages were the pride
of him.

The very first subject after being seated was Maple Grove, "My brother
Mr. Suckling's seat;"--a comparison of Hartfield to Maple Grove.  The
grounds of Hartfield were small, but neat and pretty; and the house was
modern and well-built. Mrs. Elton seemed most favourably impressed by
the size of the room, the entrance, and all that she could see or
imagine.  "Very like Maple Grove indeed!--She was quite struck by the
likeness!--That room was the very shape and size of the morning-room at
Maple Grove; her sister's favourite room."-- Mr. Elton was appealed
to.--"Was not it astonishingly like?-- She could really almost fancy
herself at Maple Grove."

"And the staircase--You know, as I came in, I observed how very like
the staircase was; placed exactly in the same part of the house.  I
really could not help exclaiming!  I assure you, Miss Woodhouse, it is
very delightful to me, to be reminded of a place I am so extremely
partial to as Maple Grove.  I have spent so many happy months there!
(with a little sigh of sentiment). A charming place, undoubtedly.
Every body who sees it is struck by its beauty; but to me, it has been
quite a home.  Whenever you are transplanted, like me, Miss Woodhouse,
you will understand how very delightful it is to meet with any thing at
all like what one has left behind.  I always say this is quite one of
the evils of matrimony."

Emma made as slight a reply as she could; but it was fully sufficient
for Mrs. Elton, who only wanted to be talking herself.

"So extremely like Maple Grove!  And it is not merely the house--the
grounds, I assure you, as far as I could observe, are strikingly like.
The laurels at Maple Grove are in the same profusion as here, and stand
very much in the same way--just across the lawn; and I had a glimpse of
a fine large tree, with a bench round it, which put me so exactly in
mind!  My brother and sister will be enchanted with this place.  People
who have extensive grounds themselves are always pleased with any thing
in the same style."

Emma doubted the truth of this sentiment.  She had a great idea that
people who had extensive grounds themselves cared very little for the
extensive grounds of any body else; but it was not worth while to
attack an error so double-dyed, and therefore only said in reply,

"When you have seen more of this country, I am afraid you will think
you have overrated Hartfield.  Surry is full of beauties."

"Oh! yes, I am quite aware of that.  It is the garden of England, you
know.  Surry is the garden of England."

"Yes; but we must not rest our claims on that distinction.  Many
counties, I believe, are called the garden of England, as well as
Surry."

"No, I fancy not," replied Mrs. Elton, with a most satisfied smile." I
never heard any county but Surry called so."

Emma was silenced.

"My brother and sister have promised us a visit in the spring, or
summer at farthest," continued Mrs. Elton; "and that will be our time
for exploring.  While they are with us, we shall explore a great deal,
I dare say.  They will have their barouche-landau, of course, which
holds four perfectly; and therefore, without saying any thing of _our_
carriage, we should be able to explore the different beauties extremely
well.  They would hardly come in their chaise, I think, at that season
of the year.  Indeed, when the time draws on, I shall decidedly
recommend their bringing the barouche-landau; it will be so very much
preferable.  When people come into a beautiful country of this sort,
you know, Miss Woodhouse, one naturally wishes them to see as much as
possible; and Mr. Suckling is extremely fond of exploring.  We explored
to King's-Weston twice last summer, in that way, most delightfully,
just after their first having the barouche-landau.  You have many
parties of that kind here, I suppose, Miss Woodhouse, every summer?"

"No; not immediately here.  We are rather out of distance of the very
striking beauties which attract the sort of parties you speak of; and
we are a very quiet set of people, I believe; more disposed to stay at
home than engage in schemes of pleasure."

"Ah! there is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.  Nobody
can be more devoted to home than I am.  I was quite a proverb for it at
Maple Grove.  Many a time has Selina said, when she has been going to
Bristol, 'I really cannot get this girl to move from the house.  I
absolutely must go in by myself, though I hate being stuck up in the
barouche-landau without a companion; but Augusta, I believe, with her
own good-will, would never stir beyond the park paling.'  Many a time
has she said so; and yet I am no advocate for entire seclusion.  I
think, on the contrary, when people shut themselves up entirely from
society, it is a very bad thing; and that it is much more advisable to
mix in the world in a proper degree, without living in it either too
much or too little.  I perfectly understand your situation, however,
Miss Woodhouse--(looking towards Mr. Woodhouse), Your father's state
of health must be a great drawback.  Why does not he try Bath?--Indeed
he should.  Let me recommend Bath to you.  I assure you I have no doubt
of its doing Mr. Woodhouse good."

"My father tried it more than once, formerly; but without receiving any
benefit; and Mr. Perry, whose name, I dare say, is not unknown to you,
does not conceive it would be at all more likely to be useful now."

"Ah! that's a great pity; for I assure you, Miss Woodhouse, where the
waters do agree, it is quite wonderful the relief they give.  In my
Bath life, I have seen such instances of it!  And it is so cheerful a
place, that it could not fail of being of use to Mr. Woodhouse's
spirits, which, I understand, are sometimes much depressed.  And as to
its recommendations to _you_, I fancy I need not take much pains to
dwell on them.  The advantages of Bath to the young are pretty
generally understood.  It would be a charming introduction for you, who
have lived so secluded a life; and I could immediately secure you some
of the best society in the place.  A line from me would bring you a
little host of acquaintance; and my particular friend, Mrs. Partridge,
the lady I have always resided with when in Bath, would be most happy
to shew you any attentions, and would be the very person for you to go
into public with."

It was as much as Emma could bear, without being impolite.  The idea of
her being indebted to Mrs. Elton for what was called an
_introduction_--of her going into public under the auspices of a friend
of Mrs. Elton's--probably some vulgar, dashing widow, who, with the
help of a boarder, just made a shift to live!-- The dignity of Miss
Woodhouse, of Hartfield, was sunk indeed!

She restrained herself, however, from any of the reproofs she could
have given, and only thanked Mrs. Elton coolly; "but their going to
Bath was quite out of the question; and she was not perfectly convinced
that the place might suit her better than her father." And then, to
prevent farther outrage and indignation, changed the subject directly.

"I do not ask whether you are musical, Mrs. Elton.  Upon these
occasions, a lady's character generally precedes her; and Highbury has
long known that you are a superior performer."

"Oh! no, indeed; I must protest against any such idea.  A superior
performer!--very far from it, I assure you.  Consider from how partial
a quarter your information came.  I am doatingly fond of
music--passionately fond;--and my friends say I am not entirely devoid
of taste; but as to any thing else, upon my honour my performance is
_mediocre_ to the last degree.  You, Miss Woodhouse, I well know, play
delightfully.  I assure you it has been the greatest satisfaction,
comfort, and delight to me, to hear what a musical society I am got
into.  I absolutely cannot do without music.  It is a necessary of life
to me; and having always been used to a very musical society, both at
Maple Grove and in Bath, it would have been a most serious sacrifice.
I honestly said as much to Mr. E. when he was speaking of my future
home, and expressing his fears lest the retirement of it should be
disagreeable; and the inferiority of the house too--knowing what I had
been accustomed to--of course he was not wholly without apprehension.
When he was speaking of it in that way, I honestly said that _the_
_world_ I could give up--parties, balls, plays--for I had no fear of
retirement.  Blessed with so many resources within myself, the world
was not necessary to _me_.  I could do very well without it.  To those
who had no resources it was a different thing; but my resources made me
quite independent.  And as to smaller-sized rooms than I had been used
to, I really could not give it a thought.  I hoped I was perfectly
equal to any sacrifice of that description.  Certainly I had been
accustomed to every luxury at Maple Grove; but I did assure him that
two carriages were not necessary to my happiness, nor were spacious
apartments.  'But,' said I, 'to be quite honest, I do not think I can
live without something of a musical society.  I condition for nothing
else; but without music, life would be a blank to me.'"

"We cannot suppose," said Emma, smiling, "that Mr. Elton would hesitate
to assure you of there being a _very_ musical society in Highbury; and
I hope you will not find he has outstepped the truth more than may be
pardoned, in consideration of the motive."

"No, indeed, I have no doubts at all on that head.  I am delighted to
find myself in such a circle.  I hope we shall have many sweet little
concerts together.  I think, Miss Woodhouse, you and I must establish a
musical club, and have regular weekly meetings at your house, or ours.
Will not it be a good plan?  If _we_ exert ourselves, I think we shall
not be long in want of allies.  Something of that nature would be
particularly desirable for _me_, as an inducement to keep me in
practice; for married women, you know--there is a sad story against
them, in general.  They are but too apt to give up music."

"But you, who are so extremely fond of it--there can be no danger,
surely?"

"I should hope not; but really when I look around among my
acquaintance, I tremble.  Selina has entirely given up music--never
touches the instrument--though she played sweetly.  And the same may be
said of Mrs. Jeffereys--Clara Partridge, that was--and of the two
Milmans, now Mrs. Bird and Mrs. James Cooper; and of more than I can
enumerate.  Upon my word it is enough to put one in a fright.  I used
to be quite angry with Selina; but really I begin now to comprehend
that a married woman has many things to call her attention.  I believe
I was half an hour this morning shut up with my housekeeper."

"But every thing of that kind," said Emma, "will soon be in so regular
a train--"

"Well," said Mrs. Elton, laughing, "we shall see."

Emma, finding her so determined upon neglecting her music, had nothing
more to say; and, after a moment's pause, Mrs. Elton chose another
subject.

"We have been calling at Randalls," said she, "and found them both at
home; and very pleasant people they seem to be.  I like them extremely.
Mr. Weston seems an excellent creature--quite a first-rate favourite
with me already, I assure you.  And _she_ appears so truly good--there
is something so motherly and kind-hearted about her, that it wins upon
one directly.  She was your governess, I think?"

Emma was almost too much astonished to answer; but Mrs. Elton hardly
waited for the affirmative before she went on.

"Having understood as much, I was rather astonished to find her so very
lady-like!  But she is really quite the gentlewoman."

"Mrs. Weston's manners," said Emma, "were always particularly good.
Their propriety, simplicity, and elegance, would make them the safest
model for any young woman."

"And who do you think came in while we were there?"

Emma was quite at a loss.  The tone implied some old acquaintance--and
how could she possibly guess?

"Knightley!" continued Mrs. Elton; "Knightley himself!--Was not it
lucky?--for, not being within when he called the other day, I had never
seen him before; and of course, as so particular a friend of Mr. E.'s,
I had a great curiosity.  'My friend Knightley' had been so often
mentioned, that I was really impatient to see him; and I must do my
caro sposo the justice to say that he need not be ashamed of his
friend.  Knightley is quite the gentleman.  I like him very much.
Decidedly, I think, a very gentleman-like man."

Happily, it was now time to be gone.  They were off; and Emma could
breathe.

"Insufferable woman!" was her immediate exclamation.  "Worse than I had
supposed.  Absolutely insufferable!  Knightley!--I could not have
believed it.  Knightley!--never seen him in her life before, and call
him Knightley!--and discover that he is a gentleman!  A little upstart,
vulgar being, with her Mr. E., and her _caro_ _sposo_, and her
resources, and all her airs of pert pretension and underbred finery.
Actually to discover that Mr. Knightley is a gentleman!  I doubt
whether he will return the compliment, and discover her to be a lady.
I could not have believed it!  And to propose that she and I should
unite to form a musical club!  One would fancy we were bosom friends!
And Mrs. Weston!-- Astonished that the person who had brought me up
should be a gentlewoman!  Worse and worse.  I never met with her equal.
Much beyond my hopes.  Harriet is disgraced by any comparison.  Oh!
what would Frank Churchill say to her, if he were here?  How angry and
how diverted he would be!  Ah! there I am--thinking of him directly.
Always the first person to be thought of!  How I catch myself out!
Frank Churchill comes as regularly into my mind!"--

All this ran so glibly through her thoughts, that by the time her
father had arranged himself, after the bustle of the Eltons' departure,
and was ready to speak, she was very tolerably capable of attending.

"Well, my dear," he deliberately began, "considering we never saw her
before, she seems a very pretty sort of young lady; and I dare say she
was very much pleased with you.  She speaks a little too quick.  A
little quickness of voice there is which rather hurts the ear.  But I
believe I am nice; I do not like strange voices; and nobody speaks like
you and poor Miss Taylor.  However, she seems a very obliging,
pretty-behaved young lady, and no doubt will make him a very good wife.
Though I think he had better not have married.  I made the best excuses
I could for not having been able to wait on him and Mrs. Elton on this
happy occasion; I said that I hoped I _should_ in the course of the
summer.  But I ought to have gone before.  Not to wait upon a bride is
very remiss.  Ah! it shews what a sad invalid I am!  But I do not like
the corner into Vicarage Lane."

"I dare say your apologies were accepted, sir.  Mr. Elton knows you."

"Yes:  but a young lady--a bride--I ought to have paid my respects to
her if possible.  It was being very deficient."

"But, my dear papa, you are no friend to matrimony; and therefore why
should you be so anxious to pay your respects to a _bride_?  It ought
to be no recommendation to _you_.  It is encouraging people to marry if
you make so much of them."

"No, my dear, I never encouraged any body to marry, but I would always
wish to pay every proper attention to a lady--and a bride, especially,
is never to be neglected.  More is avowedly due to _her_.  A bride, you
know, my dear, is always the first in company, let the others be who
they may."

"Well, papa, if this is not encouragement to marry, I do not know what
is.  And I should never have expected you to be lending your sanction
to such vanity-baits for poor young ladies."

"My dear, you do not understand me.  This is a matter of mere common
politeness and good-breeding, and has nothing to do with any
encouragement to people to marry."

Emma had done.  Her father was growing nervous, and could not
understand _her_.  Her mind returned to Mrs. Elton's offences, and
long, very long, did they occupy her.



CHAPTER XV


Emma was not required, by any subsequent discovery, to retract her ill
opinion of Mrs. Elton.  Her observation had been pretty correct.  Such
as Mrs. Elton appeared to her on this second interview, such she
appeared whenever they met again,--self-important, presuming, familiar,
ignorant, and ill-bred. She had a little beauty and a little
accomplishment, but so little judgment that she thought herself coming
with superior knowledge of the world, to enliven and improve a country
neighbourhood; and conceived Miss Hawkins to have held such a place in
society as Mrs. Elton's consequence only could surpass.

There was no reason to suppose Mr. Elton thought at all differently
from his wife.  He seemed not merely happy with her, but proud.  He had
the air of congratulating himself on having brought such a woman to
Highbury, as not even Miss Woodhouse could equal; and the greater part
of her new acquaintance, disposed to commend, or not in the habit of
judging, following the lead of Miss Bates's good-will, or taking it for
granted that the bride must be as clever and as agreeable as she
professed herself, were very well satisfied; so that Mrs. Elton's
praise passed from one mouth to another as it ought to do, unimpeded by
Miss Woodhouse, who readily continued her first contribution and talked
with a good grace of her being "very pleasant and very elegantly
dressed."

In one respect Mrs. Elton grew even worse than she had appeared at
first.  Her feelings altered towards Emma.--Offended, probably, by the
little encouragement which her proposals of intimacy met with, she drew
back in her turn and gradually became much more cold and distant; and
though the effect was agreeable, the ill-will which produced it was
necessarily increasing Emma's dislike.  Her manners, too--and Mr.
Elton's, were unpleasant towards Harriet.  They were sneering and
negligent.  Emma hoped it must rapidly work Harriet's cure; but the
sensations which could prompt such behaviour sunk them both very
much.--It was not to be doubted that poor Harriet's attachment had been
an offering to conjugal unreserve, and her own share in the story,
under a colouring the least favourable to her and the most soothing to
him, had in all likelihood been given also.  She was, of course, the
object of their joint dislike.-- When they had nothing else to say, it
must be always easy to begin abusing Miss Woodhouse; and the enmity
which they dared not shew in open disrespect to her, found a broader
vent in contemptuous treatment of Harriet.

Mrs. Elton took a great fancy to Jane Fairfax; and from the first.  Not
merely when a state of warfare with one young lady might be supposed to
recommend the other, but from the very first; and she was not satisfied
with expressing a natural and reasonable admiration--but without
solicitation, or plea, or privilege, she must be wanting to assist and
befriend her.--Before Emma had forfeited her confidence, and about the
third time of their meeting, she heard all Mrs. Elton's knight-errantry
on the subject.--

"Jane Fairfax is absolutely charming, Miss Woodhouse.--I quite rave
about Jane Fairfax.--A sweet, interesting creature.  So mild and
ladylike--and with such talents!--I assure you I think she has very
extraordinary talents.  I do not scruple to say that she plays
extremely well.  I know enough of music to speak decidedly on that
point.  Oh! she is absolutely charming!  You will laugh at my
warmth--but, upon my word, I talk of nothing but Jane Fairfax.-- And
her situation is so calculated to affect one!--Miss Woodhouse, we must
exert ourselves and endeavour to do something for her.  We must bring
her forward.  Such talent as hers must not be suffered to remain
unknown.--I dare say you have heard those charming lines of the poet,

        'Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
          'And waste its fragrance on the desert air.'

We must not allow them to be verified in sweet Jane Fairfax."

"I cannot think there is any danger of it," was Emma's calm answer--
"and when you are better acquainted with Miss Fairfax's situation and
understand what her home has been, with Colonel and Mrs. Campbell, I
have no idea that you will suppose her talents can be unknown."

"Oh! but dear Miss Woodhouse, she is now in such retirement, such
obscurity, so thrown away.--Whatever advantages she may have enjoyed
with the Campbells are so palpably at an end!  And I think she feels
it.  I am sure she does.  She is very timid and silent.  One can see
that she feels the want of encouragement.  I like her the better for
it.  I must confess it is a recommendation to me.  I am a great
advocate for timidity--and I am sure one does not often meet with
it.--But in those who are at all inferior, it is extremely
prepossessing.  Oh!  I assure you, Jane Fairfax is a very delightful
character, and interests me more than I can express."

"You appear to feel a great deal--but I am not aware how you or any of
Miss Fairfax's acquaintance here, any of those who have known her
longer than yourself, can shew her any other attention than"--

"My dear Miss Woodhouse, a vast deal may be done by those who dare to
act.  You and I need not be afraid.  If _we_ set the example, many will
follow it as far as they can; though all have not our situations.  _We_
have carriages to fetch and convey her home, and _we_ live in a style
which could not make the addition of Jane Fairfax, at any time, the
least inconvenient.--I should be extremely displeased if Wright were to
send us up such a dinner, as could make me regret having asked _more_
than Jane Fairfax to partake of it.  I have no idea of that sort of
thing.  It is not likely that I _should_, considering what I have been
used to.  My greatest danger, perhaps, in housekeeping, may be quite
the other way, in doing too much, and being too careless of expense.
Maple Grove will probably be my model more than it ought to be--for we
do not at all affect to equal my brother, Mr. Suckling, in
income.--However, my resolution is taken as to noticing Jane Fairfax.--
I shall certainly have her very often at my house, shall introduce her
wherever I can, shall have musical parties to draw out her talents, and
shall be constantly on the watch for an eligible situation.  My
acquaintance is so very extensive, that I have little doubt of hearing
of something to suit her shortly.--I shall introduce her, of course,
very particularly to my brother and sister when they come to us.  I am
sure they will like her extremely; and when she gets a little
acquainted with them, her fears will completely wear off, for there
really is nothing in the manners of either but what is highly
conciliating.--I shall have her very often indeed while they are with
me, and I dare say we shall sometimes find a seat for her in the
barouche-landau in some of our exploring parties."

"Poor Jane Fairfax!"--thought Emma.--"You have not deserved this.  You
may have done wrong with regard to Mr. Dixon, but this is a punishment
beyond what you can have merited!--The kindness and protection of Mrs.
Elton!--'Jane Fairfax and Jane Fairfax.'  Heavens!  Let me not suppose
that she dares go about, Emma Woodhouse-ing me!-- But upon my honour,
there seems no limits to the licentiousness of that woman's tongue!"

Emma had not to listen to such paradings again--to any so exclusively
addressed to herself--so disgustingly decorated with a "dear Miss
Woodhouse."  The change on Mrs. Elton's side soon afterwards appeared,
and she was left in peace--neither forced to be the very particular
friend of Mrs. Elton, nor, under Mrs. Elton's guidance, the very active
patroness of Jane Fairfax, and only sharing with others in a general
way, in knowing what was felt, what was meditated, what was done.

She looked on with some amusement.--Miss Bates's gratitude for Mrs.
Elton's attentions to Jane was in the first style of guileless
simplicity and warmth.  She was quite one of her worthies--the most
amiable, affable, delightful woman--just as accomplished and
condescending as Mrs. Elton meant to be considered.  Emma's only
surprize was that Jane Fairfax should accept those attentions and
tolerate Mrs. Elton as she seemed to do.  She heard of her walking with
the Eltons, sitting with the Eltons, spending a day with the Eltons!
This was astonishing!--She could not have believed it possible that the
taste or the pride of Miss Fairfax could endure such society and
friendship as the Vicarage had to offer.

"She is a riddle, quite a riddle!" said she.--"To chuse to remain here
month after month, under privations of every sort!  And now to chuse
the mortification of Mrs. Elton's notice and the penury of her
conversation, rather than return to the superior companions who have
always loved her with such real, generous affection."

Jane had come to Highbury professedly for three months; the Campbells
were gone to Ireland for three months; but now the Campbells had
promised their daughter to stay at least till Midsummer, and fresh
invitations had arrived for her to join them there.  According to Miss
Bates--it all came from her--Mrs. Dixon had written most pressingly.
Would Jane but go, means were to be found, servants sent, friends
contrived--no travelling difficulty allowed to exist; but still she had
declined it!

"She must have some motive, more powerful than appears, for refusing
this invitation," was Emma's conclusion.  "She must be under some sort
of penance, inflicted either by the Campbells or herself.  There is
great fear, great caution, great resolution somewhere.-- She is _not_
to be with the _Dixons_.  The decree is issued by somebody.  But why
must she consent to be with the Eltons?--Here is quite a separate
puzzle."

Upon her speaking her wonder aloud on that part of the subject, before
the few who knew her opinion of Mrs. Elton, Mrs. Weston ventured this
apology for Jane.

"We cannot suppose that she has any great enjoyment at the Vicarage, my
dear Emma--but it is better than being always at home.  Her aunt is a
good creature, but, as a constant companion, must be very tiresome.  We
must consider what Miss Fairfax quits, before we condemn her taste for
what she goes to."

"You are right, Mrs. Weston," said Mr. Knightley warmly, "Miss Fairfax
is as capable as any of us of forming a just opinion of Mrs. Elton.
Could she have chosen with whom to associate, she would not have chosen
her.  But (with a reproachful smile at Emma) she receives attentions
from Mrs. Elton, which nobody else pays her."

Emma felt that Mrs. Weston was giving her a momentary glance; and she
was herself struck by his warmth.  With a faint blush, she presently
replied,

"Such attentions as Mrs. Elton's, I should have imagined, would rather
disgust than gratify Miss Fairfax.  Mrs. Elton's invitations I should
have imagined any thing but inviting."

"I should not wonder," said Mrs. Weston, "if Miss Fairfax were to have
been drawn on beyond her own inclination, by her aunt's eagerness in
accepting Mrs. Elton's civilities for her.  Poor Miss Bates may very
likely have committed her niece and hurried her into a greater
appearance of intimacy than her own good sense would have dictated, in
spite of the very natural wish of a little change."

Both felt rather anxious to hear him speak again; and after a few
minutes silence, he said,

"Another thing must be taken into consideration too--Mrs. Elton does
not talk _to_ Miss Fairfax as she speaks _of_ her.  We all know the
difference between the pronouns he or she and thou, the plainest spoken
amongst us; we all feel the influence of a something beyond common
civility in our personal intercourse with each other--a something more
early implanted.  We cannot give any body the disagreeable hints that
we may have been very full of the hour before.  We feel things
differently.  And besides the operation of this, as a general
principle, you may be sure that Miss Fairfax awes Mrs. Elton by her
superiority both of mind and manner; and that, face to face, Mrs. Elton
treats her with all the respect which she has a claim to.  Such a woman
as Jane Fairfax probably never fell in Mrs. Elton's way before--and no
degree of vanity can prevent her acknowledging her own comparative
littleness in action, if not in consciousness."

"I know how highly you think of Jane Fairfax," said Emma.  Little Henry
was in her thoughts, and a mixture of alarm and delicacy made her
irresolute what else to say.

"Yes," he replied, "any body may know how highly I think of her."

"And yet," said Emma, beginning hastily and with an arch look, but soon
stopping--it was better, however, to know the worst at once--she
hurried on--"And yet, perhaps, you may hardly be aware yourself how
highly it is.  The extent of your admiration may take you by surprize
some day or other."

Mr. Knightley was hard at work upon the lower buttons of his thick
leather gaiters, and either the exertion of getting them together, or
some other cause, brought the colour into his face, as he answered,

"Oh! are you there?--But you are miserably behindhand.  Mr. Cole gave
me a hint of it six weeks ago."

He stopped.--Emma felt her foot pressed by Mrs. Weston, and did not
herself know what to think.  In a moment he went on--

"That will never be, however, I can assure you.  Miss Fairfax, I dare
say, would not have me if I were to ask her--and I am very sure I shall
never ask her."

Emma returned her friend's pressure with interest; and was pleased
enough to exclaim,

"You are not vain, Mr. Knightley.  I will say that for you."

He seemed hardly to hear her; he was thoughtful--and in a manner which
shewed him not pleased, soon afterwards said,

"So you have been settling that I should marry Jane Fairfax?"

"No indeed I have not.  You have scolded me too much for match-making,
for me to presume to take such a liberty with you.  What I said just
now, meant nothing.  One says those sort of things, of course, without
any idea of a serious meaning.  Oh! no, upon my word I have not the
smallest wish for your marrying Jane Fairfax or Jane any body.  You
would not come in and sit with us in this comfortable way, if you were
married."

Mr. Knightley was thoughtful again.  The result of his reverie was,
"No, Emma, I do not think the extent of my admiration for her will ever
take me by surprize.--I never had a thought of her in that way, I
assure you."  And soon afterwards, "Jane Fairfax is a very charming
young woman--but not even Jane Fairfax is perfect.  She has a fault.
She has not the open temper which a man would wish for in a wife."

Emma could not but rejoice to hear that she had a fault.  "Well," said
she, "and you soon silenced Mr. Cole, I suppose?"

"Yes, very soon.  He gave me a quiet hint; I told him he was mistaken;
he asked my pardon and said no more.  Cole does not want to be wiser or
wittier than his neighbours."

"In that respect how unlike dear Mrs. Elton, who wants to be wiser and
wittier than all the world!  I wonder how she speaks of the Coles--what
she calls them!  How can she find any appellation for them, deep
enough in familiar vulgarity?  She calls you, Knightley--what can she
do for Mr. Cole?  And so I am not to be surprized that Jane Fairfax
accepts her civilities and consents to be with her.  Mrs. Weston, your
argument weighs most with me.  I can much more readily enter into the
temptation of getting away from Miss Bates, than I can believe in the
triumph of Miss Fairfax's mind over Mrs. Elton.  I have no faith in
Mrs. Elton's acknowledging herself the inferior in thought, word, or
deed; or in her being under any restraint beyond her own scanty rule of
good-breeding. I cannot imagine that she will not be continually
insulting her visitor with praise, encouragement, and offers of
service; that she will not be continually detailing her magnificent
intentions, from the procuring her a permanent situation to the
including her in those delightful exploring parties which are to take
place in the barouche-landau."

"Jane Fairfax has feeling," said Mr. Knightley--"I do not accuse her of
want of feeling.  Her sensibilities, I suspect, are strong--and her
temper excellent in its power of forbearance, patience, self-control;
but it wants openness.  She is reserved, more reserved, I think, than
she used to be--And I love an open temper.  No--till Cole alluded to my
supposed attachment, it had never entered my head.  I saw Jane Fairfax
and conversed with her, with admiration and pleasure always--but with
no thought beyond."

"Well, Mrs. Weston," said Emma triumphantly when he left them, "what do
you say now to Mr. Knightley's marrying Jane Fairfax?"

"Why, really, dear Emma, I say that he is so very much occupied by the
idea of _not_ being in love with her, that I should not wonder if it
were to end in his being so at last.  Do not beat me."



CHAPTER XVI


Every body in and about Highbury who had ever visited Mr. Elton, was
disposed to pay him attention on his marriage.  Dinner-parties and
evening-parties were made for him and his lady; and invitations flowed
in so fast that she had soon the pleasure of apprehending they were
never to have a disengaged day.

"I see how it is," said she.  "I see what a life I am to lead among
you.  Upon my word we shall be absolutely dissipated.  We really seem
quite the fashion.  If this is living in the country, it is nothing
very formidable.  From Monday next to Saturday, I assure you we have
not a disengaged day!--A woman with fewer resources than I have, need
not have been at a loss."

No invitation came amiss to her.  Her Bath habits made evening-parties
perfectly natural to her, and Maple Grove had given her a taste for
dinners.  She was a little shocked at the want of two drawing rooms, at
the poor attempt at rout-cakes, and there being no ice in the Highbury
card-parties. Mrs. Bates, Mrs. Perry, Mrs. Goddard and others, were a
good deal behind-hand in knowledge of the world, but she would soon
shew them how every thing ought to be arranged.  In the course of the
spring she must return their civilities by one very superior party--in
which her card-tables should be set out with their separate candles and
unbroken packs in the true style--and more waiters engaged for the
evening than their own establishment could furnish, to carry round the
refreshments at exactly the proper hour, and in the proper order.

Emma, in the meanwhile, could not be satisfied without a dinner at
Hartfield for the Eltons.  They must not do less than others, or she
should be exposed to odious suspicions, and imagined capable of pitiful
resentment.  A dinner there must be.  After Emma had talked about it
for ten minutes, Mr. Woodhouse felt no unwillingness, and only made the
usual stipulation of not sitting at the bottom of the table himself,
with the usual regular difficulty of deciding who should do it for him.

The persons to be invited, required little thought.  Besides the
Eltons, it must be the Westons and Mr. Knightley; so far it was all of
course--and it was hardly less inevitable that poor little Harriet
must be asked to make the eighth:--but this invitation was not given
with equal satisfaction, and on many accounts Emma was particularly
pleased by Harriet's begging to be allowed to decline it.  "She would
rather not be in his company more than she could help.  She was not yet
quite able to see him and his charming happy wife together, without
feeling uncomfortable.  If Miss Woodhouse would not be displeased, she
would rather stay at home." It was precisely what Emma would have
wished, had she deemed it possible enough for wishing.  She was
delighted with the fortitude of her little friend--for fortitude she
knew it was in her to give up being in company and stay at home; and
she could now invite the very person whom she really wanted to make the
eighth, Jane Fairfax.-- Since her last conversation with Mrs. Weston
and Mr. Knightley, she was more conscience-stricken about Jane Fairfax
than she had often been.--Mr. Knightley's words dwelt with her.  He had
said that Jane Fairfax received attentions from Mrs. Elton which nobody
else paid her.

"This is very true," said she, "at least as far as relates to me, which
was all that was meant--and it is very shameful.--Of the same age--and
always knowing her--I ought to have been more her friend.-- She will
never like me now.  I have neglected her too long.  But I will shew her
greater attention than I have done."

Every invitation was successful.  They were all disengaged and all
happy.-- The preparatory interest of this dinner, however, was not yet
over.  A circumstance rather unlucky occurred.  The two eldest little
Knightleys were engaged to pay their grandpapa and aunt a visit of some
weeks in the spring, and their papa now proposed bringing them, and
staying one whole day at Hartfield--which one day would be the very day
of this party.--His professional engagements did not allow of his being
put off, but both father and daughter were disturbed by its happening
so.  Mr. Woodhouse considered eight persons at dinner together as the
utmost that his nerves could bear--and here would be a ninth--and Emma
apprehended that it would be a ninth very much out of humour at not
being able to come even to Hartfield for forty-eight hours without
falling in with a dinner-party.

She comforted her father better than she could comfort herself, by
representing that though he certainly would make them nine, yet he
always said so little, that the increase of noise would be very
immaterial.  She thought it in reality a sad exchange for herself, to
have him with his grave looks and reluctant conversation opposed to her
instead of his brother.

The event was more favourable to Mr. Woodhouse than to Emma.  John
Knightley came; but Mr. Weston was unexpectedly summoned to town and
must be absent on the very day.  He might be able to join them in the
evening, but certainly not to dinner.  Mr. Woodhouse was quite at ease;
and the seeing him so, with the arrival of the little boys and the
philosophic composure of her brother on hearing his fate, removed the
chief of even Emma's vexation.

The day came, the party were punctually assembled, and Mr. John
Knightley seemed early to devote himself to the business of being
agreeable.  Instead of drawing his brother off to a window while they
waited for dinner, he was talking to Miss Fairfax.  Mrs. Elton, as
elegant as lace and pearls could make her, he looked at in silence--
wanting only to observe enough for Isabella's information--but Miss
Fairfax was an old acquaintance and a quiet girl, and he could talk to
her.  He had met her before breakfast as he was returning from a walk
with his little boys, when it had been just beginning to rain.  It was
natural to have some civil hopes on the subject, and he said,

"I hope you did not venture far, Miss Fairfax, this morning, or I am
sure you must have been wet.--We scarcely got home in time.  I hope you
turned directly."

"I went only to the post-office," said she, "and reached home before
the rain was much.  It is my daily errand.  I always fetch the letters
when I am here.  It saves trouble, and is a something to get me out.  A
walk before breakfast does me good."

"Not a walk in the rain, I should imagine."

"No, but it did not absolutely rain when I set out."

Mr. John Knightley smiled, and replied,

"That is to say, you chose to have your walk, for you were not six
yards from your own door when I had the pleasure of meeting you; and
Henry and John had seen more drops than they could count long before.
The post-office has a great charm at one period of our lives.  When you
have lived to my age, you will begin to think letters are never worth
going through the rain for."

There was a little blush, and then this answer,

"I must not hope to be ever situated as you are, in the midst of every
dearest connexion, and therefore I cannot expect that simply growing
older should make me indifferent about letters."

"Indifferent!  Oh! no--I never conceived you could become indifferent.
Letters are no matter of indifference; they are generally a very
positive curse."

"You are speaking of letters of business; mine are letters of
friendship."

"I have often thought them the worst of the two," replied he coolly.
"Business, you know, may bring money, but friendship hardly ever does."

"Ah! you are not serious now.  I know Mr. John Knightley too well--I
am very sure he understands the value of friendship as well as any
body.  I can easily believe that letters are very little to you, much
less than to me, but it is not your being ten years older than myself
which makes the difference, it is not age, but situation.  You have
every body dearest to you always at hand, I, probably, never shall
again; and therefore till I have outlived all my affections, a
post-office, I think, must always have power to draw me out, in worse
weather than to-day."

"When I talked of your being altered by time, by the progress of
years," said John Knightley, "I meant to imply the change of situation
which time usually brings.  I consider one as including the other.
Time will generally lessen the interest of every attachment not within
the daily circle--but that is not the change I had in view for you.  As
an old friend, you will allow me to hope, Miss Fairfax, that ten years
hence you may have as many concentrated objects as I have."

It was kindly said, and very far from giving offence.  A pleasant
"thank you" seemed meant to laugh it off, but a blush, a quivering lip,
a tear in the eye, shewed that it was felt beyond a laugh.  Her
attention was now claimed by Mr. Woodhouse, who being, according to his
custom on such occasions, making the circle of his guests, and paying
his particular compliments to the ladies, was ending with her--and with
all his mildest urbanity, said,

"I am very sorry to hear, Miss Fairfax, of your being out this morning
in the rain.  Young ladies should take care of themselves.-- Young
ladies are delicate plants.  They should take care of their health and
their complexion.  My dear, did you change your stockings?"

"Yes, sir, I did indeed; and I am very much obliged by your kind
solicitude about me."

"My dear Miss Fairfax, young ladies are very sure to be cared for.-- I
hope your good grand-mama and aunt are well.  They are some of my very
old friends.  I wish my health allowed me to be a better neighbour.
You do us a great deal of honour to-day, I am sure.  My daughter and I
are both highly sensible of your goodness, and have the greatest
satisfaction in seeing you at Hartfield."

The kind-hearted, polite old man might then sit down and feel that he
had done his duty, and made every fair lady welcome and easy.

By this time, the walk in the rain had reached Mrs. Elton, and her
remonstrances now opened upon Jane.

"My dear Jane, what is this I hear?--Going to the post-office in the
rain!--This must not be, I assure you.--You sad girl, how could you do
such a thing?--It is a sign I was not there to take care of you."

Jane very patiently assured her that she had not caught any cold.

"Oh! do not tell _me_.  You really are a very sad girl, and do not know
how to take care of yourself.--To the post-office indeed!  Mrs. Weston,
did you ever hear the like?  You and I must positively exert our
authority."

"My advice," said Mrs. Weston kindly and persuasively, "I certainly do
feel tempted to give.  Miss Fairfax, you must not run such risks.--
Liable as you have been to severe colds, indeed you ought to be
particularly careful, especially at this time of year.  The spring I
always think requires more than common care.  Better wait an hour or
two, or even half a day for your letters, than run the risk of bringing
on your cough again.  Now do not you feel that you had?  Yes, I am sure
you are much too reasonable.  You look as if you would not do such a
thing again."

"Oh! she _shall_ _not_ do such a thing again," eagerly rejoined Mrs.
Elton.  "We will not allow her to do such a thing again:"--and nodding
significantly--"there must be some arrangement made, there must indeed.
I shall speak to Mr. E. The man who fetches our letters every morning
(one of our men, I forget his name) shall inquire for yours too and
bring them to you.  That will obviate all difficulties you know; and
from _us_ I really think, my dear Jane, you can have no scruple to
accept such an accommodation."

"You are extremely kind," said Jane; "but I cannot give up my early
walk.  I am advised to be out of doors as much as I can, I must walk
somewhere, and the post-office is an object; and upon my word, I have
scarcely ever had a bad morning before."

"My dear Jane, say no more about it.  The thing is determined, that is
(laughing affectedly) as far as I can presume to determine any thing
without the concurrence of my lord and master.  You know, Mrs. Weston,
you and I must be cautious how we express ourselves.  But I do flatter
myself, my dear Jane, that my influence is not entirely worn out.  If I
meet with no insuperable difficulties therefore, consider that point as
settled."

"Excuse me," said Jane earnestly, "I cannot by any means consent to
such an arrangement, so needlessly troublesome to your servant.  If the
errand were not a pleasure to me, it could be done, as it always is
when I am not here, by my grandmama's."

"Oh! my dear; but so much as Patty has to do!--And it is a kindness to
employ our men."

Jane looked as if she did not mean to be conquered; but instead of
answering, she began speaking again to Mr. John Knightley.

"The post-office is a wonderful establishment!" said she.-- "The
regularity and despatch of it!  If one thinks of all that it has to do,
and all that it does so well, it is really astonishing!"

"It is certainly very well regulated."

"So seldom that any negligence or blunder appears!  So seldom that a
letter, among the thousands that are constantly passing about the
kingdom, is even carried wrong--and not one in a million, I suppose,
actually lost!  And when one considers the variety of hands, and of bad
hands too, that are to be deciphered, it increases the wonder."

"The clerks grow expert from habit.--They must begin with some
quickness of sight and hand, and exercise improves them.  If you want
any farther explanation," continued he, smiling, "they are paid for it.
That is the key to a great deal of capacity.  The public pays and must
be served well."

The varieties of handwriting were farther talked of, and the usual
observations made.

"I have heard it asserted," said John Knightley, "that the same sort of
handwriting often prevails in a family; and where the same master
teaches, it is natural enough.  But for that reason, I should imagine
the likeness must be chiefly confined to the females, for boys have
very little teaching after an early age, and scramble into any hand
they can get.  Isabella and Emma, I think, do write very much alike.  I
have not always known their writing apart."

"Yes," said his brother hesitatingly, "there is a likeness.  I know
what you mean--but Emma's hand is the strongest."

"Isabella and Emma both write beautifully," said Mr. Woodhouse; "and
always did.  And so does poor Mrs. Weston"--with half a sigh and half a
smile at her.

"I never saw any gentleman's handwriting"--Emma began, looking also at
Mrs. Weston; but stopped, on perceiving that Mrs. Weston was attending
to some one else--and the pause gave her time to reflect, "Now, how am
I going to introduce him?--Am I unequal to speaking his name at once
before all these people?  Is it necessary for me to use any roundabout
phrase?--Your Yorkshire friend--your correspondent in Yorkshire;--that
would be the way, I suppose, if I were very bad.--No, I can pronounce
his name without the smallest distress.  I certainly get better and
better.--Now for it."

Mrs. Weston was disengaged and Emma began again--"Mr. Frank Churchill
writes one of the best gentleman's hands I ever saw."

"I do not admire it," said Mr. Knightley.  "It is too small--wants
strength.  It is like a woman's writing."

This was not submitted to by either lady.  They vindicated him against
the base aspersion.  "No, it by no means wanted strength--it was not a
large hand, but very clear and certainly strong.  Had not Mrs. Weston
any letter about her to produce?"  No, she had heard from him very
lately, but having answered the letter, had put it away.

"If we were in the other room," said Emma, "if I had my writing-desk, I
am sure I could produce a specimen.  I have a note of his.-- Do not you
remember, Mrs. Weston, employing him to write for you one day?"

"He chose to say he was employed"--

"Well, well, I have that note; and can shew it after dinner to convince
Mr. Knightley."

"Oh! when a gallant young man, like Mr. Frank Churchill," said Mr.
Knightley dryly, "writes to a fair lady like Miss Woodhouse, he will,
of course, put forth his best."

Dinner was on table.--Mrs. Elton, before she could be spoken to, was
ready; and before Mr. Woodhouse had reached her with his request to be
allowed to hand her into the dining-parlour, was saying--

"Must I go first?  I really am ashamed of always leading the way."

Jane's solicitude about fetching her own letters had not escaped Emma.
She had heard and seen it all; and felt some curiosity to know whether
the wet walk of this morning had produced any.  She suspected that it
_had_; that it would not have been so resolutely encountered but in
full expectation of hearing from some one very dear, and that it had
not been in vain.  She thought there was an air of greater happiness
than usual--a glow both of complexion and spirits.

She could have made an inquiry or two, as to the expedition and the
expense of the Irish mails;--it was at her tongue's end--but she
abstained.  She was quite determined not to utter a word that should
hurt Jane Fairfax's feelings; and they followed the other ladies out of
the room, arm in arm, with an appearance of good-will highly becoming
to the beauty and grace of each.



CHAPTER XVII


When the ladies returned to the drawing-room after dinner, Emma found
it hardly possible to prevent their making two distinct parties;--with
so much perseverance in judging and behaving ill did Mrs. Elton engross
Jane Fairfax and slight herself.  She and Mrs. Weston were obliged to
be almost always either talking together or silent together.  Mrs.
Elton left them no choice.  If Jane repressed her for a little time,
she soon began again; and though much that passed between them was in a
half-whisper, especially on Mrs. Elton's side, there was no avoiding a
knowledge of their principal subjects: The post-office--catching
cold--fetching letters--and friendship, were long under discussion; and
to them succeeded one, which must be at least equally unpleasant to
Jane--inquiries whether she had yet heard of any situation likely to
suit her, and professions of Mrs. Elton's meditated activity.

"Here is April come!" said she, "I get quite anxious about you.  June
will soon be here."

"But I have never fixed on June or any other month--merely looked
forward to the summer in general."

"But have you really heard of nothing?"

"I have not even made any inquiry; I do not wish to make any yet."

"Oh! my dear, we cannot begin too early; you are not aware of the
difficulty of procuring exactly the desirable thing."

"I not aware!" said Jane, shaking her head; "dear Mrs. Elton, who can
have thought of it as I have done?"

"But you have not seen so much of the world as I have.  You do not know
how many candidates there always are for the _first_ situations.  I saw
a vast deal of that in the neighbourhood round Maple Grove.  A cousin
of Mr. Suckling, Mrs. Bragge, had such an infinity of applications;
every body was anxious to be in her family, for she moves in the first
circle.  Wax-candles in the schoolroom!  You may imagine how desirable!
Of all houses in the kingdom Mrs. Bragge's is the one I would most wish
to see you in."

"Colonel and Mrs. Campbell are to be in town again by midsummer," said
Jane.  "I must spend some time with them; I am sure they will want
it;--afterwards I may probably be glad to dispose of myself.  But I
would not wish you to take the trouble of making any inquiries at
present."

"Trouble! aye, I know your scruples.  You are afraid of giving me
trouble; but I assure you, my dear Jane, the Campbells can hardly be
more interested about you than I am.  I shall write to Mrs. Partridge
in a day or two, and shall give her a strict charge to be on the
look-out for any thing eligible."

"Thank you, but I would rather you did not mention the subject to her;
till the time draws nearer, I do not wish to be giving any body
trouble."

"But, my dear child, the time is drawing near; here is April, and June,
or say even July, is very near, with such business to accomplish before
us.  Your inexperience really amuses me!  A situation such as you
deserve, and your friends would require for you, is no everyday
occurrence, is not obtained at a moment's notice; indeed, indeed, we
must begin inquiring directly."

"Excuse me, ma'am, but this is by no means my intention; I make no
inquiry myself, and should be sorry to have any made by my friends.
When I am quite determined as to the time, I am not at all afraid of
being long unemployed.  There are places in town, offices, where
inquiry would soon produce something--Offices for the sale--not quite
of human flesh--but of human intellect."

"Oh! my dear, human flesh!  You quite shock me; if you mean a fling at
the slave-trade, I assure you Mr. Suckling was always rather a friend
to the abolition."

"I did not mean, I was not thinking of the slave-trade," replied Jane;
"governess-trade, I assure you, was all that I had in view; widely
different certainly as to the guilt of those who carry it on; but as to
the greater misery of the victims, I do not know where it lies.  But I
only mean to say that there are advertising offices, and that by
applying to them I should have no doubt of very soon meeting with
something that would do."

"Something that would do!" repeated Mrs. Elton.  "Aye, _that_ may suit
your humble ideas of yourself;--I know what a modest creature you are;
but it will not satisfy your friends to have you taking up with any
thing that may offer, any inferior, commonplace situation, in a family
not moving in a certain circle, or able to command the elegancies of
life."

"You are very obliging; but as to all that, I am very indifferent; it
would be no object to me to be with the rich; my mortifications, I
think, would only be the greater; I should suffer more from comparison.
A gentleman's family is all that I should condition for."

"I know you, I know you; you would take up with any thing; but I shall
be a little more nice, and I am sure the good Campbells will be quite
on my side; with your superior talents, you have a right to move in the
first circle.  Your musical knowledge alone would entitle you to name
your own terms, have as many rooms as you like, and mix in the family
as much as you chose;--that is--I do not know--if you knew the harp,
you might do all that, I am very sure; but you sing as well as
play;--yes, I really believe you might, even without the harp,
stipulate for what you chose;--and you must and shall be delightfully,
honourably and comfortably settled before the Campbells or I have any
rest."

"You may well class the delight, the honour, and the comfort of such a
situation together," said Jane, "they are pretty sure to be equal;
however, I am very serious in not wishing any thing to be attempted at
present for me.  I am exceedingly obliged to you, Mrs. Elton, I am
obliged to any body who feels for me, but I am quite serious in wishing
nothing to be done till the summer.  For two or three months longer I
shall remain where I am, and as I am."

"And I am quite serious too, I assure you," replied Mrs. Elton gaily,
"in resolving to be always on the watch, and employing my friends to
watch also, that nothing really unexceptionable may pass us."

In this style she ran on; never thoroughly stopped by any thing till
Mr. Woodhouse came into the room; her vanity had then a change of
object, and Emma heard her saying in the same half-whisper to Jane,

"Here comes this dear old beau of mine, I protest!--Only think of his
gallantry in coming away before the other men!--what a dear creature he
is;--I assure you I like him excessively.  I admire all that quaint,
old-fashioned politeness; it is much more to my taste than modern ease;
modern ease often disgusts me.  But this good old Mr. Woodhouse, I wish
you had heard his gallant speeches to me at dinner.  Oh!  I assure you
I began to think my caro sposo would be absolutely jealous.  I fancy I
am rather a favourite; he took notice of my gown.  How do you like
it?--Selina's choice--handsome, I think, but I do not know whether it
is not over-trimmed; I have the greatest dislike to the idea of being
over-trimmed--quite a horror of finery.  I must put on a few ornaments
now, because it is expected of me.  A bride, you know, must appear like
a bride, but my natural taste is all for simplicity; a simple style of
dress is so infinitely preferable to finery.  But I am quite in the
minority, I believe; few people seem to value simplicity of
dress,--show and finery are every thing.  I have some notion of putting
such a trimming as this to my white and silver poplin.  Do you think it
will look well?"

The whole party were but just reassembled in the drawing-room when Mr.
Weston made his appearance among them.  He had returned to a late
dinner, and walked to Hartfield as soon as it was over.  He had been
too much expected by the best judges, for surprize--but there was
great joy.  Mr. Woodhouse was almost as glad to see him now, as he
would have been sorry to see him before.  John Knightley only was in
mute astonishment.--That a man who might have spent his evening quietly
at home after a day of business in London, should set off again, and
walk half a mile to another man's house, for the sake of being in mixed
company till bed-time, of finishing his day in the efforts of civility
and the noise of numbers, was a circumstance to strike him deeply.  A
man who had been in motion since eight o'clock in the morning, and
might now have been still, who had been long talking, and might have
been silent, who had been in more than one crowd, and might have been
alone!--Such a man, to quit the tranquillity and independence of his
own fireside, and on the evening of a cold sleety April day rush out
again into the world!--Could he by a touch of his finger have instantly
taken back his wife, there would have been a motive; but his coming
would probably prolong rather than break up the party.  John Knightley
looked at him with amazement, then shrugged his shoulders, and said, "I
could not have believed it even of _him_."

Mr. Weston meanwhile, perfectly unsuspicious of the indignation he was
exciting, happy and cheerful as usual, and with all the right of being
principal talker, which a day spent anywhere from home confers, was
making himself agreeable among the rest; and having satisfied the
inquiries of his wife as to his dinner, convincing her that none of all
her careful directions to the servants had been forgotten, and spread
abroad what public news he had heard, was proceeding to a family
communication, which, though principally addressed to Mrs. Weston, he
had not the smallest doubt of being highly interesting to every body in
the room.  He gave her a letter, it was from Frank, and to herself; he
had met with it in his way, and had taken the liberty of opening it.

"Read it, read it," said he, "it will give you pleasure; only a few
lines--will not take you long; read it to Emma."

The two ladies looked over it together; and he sat smiling and talking
to them the whole time, in a voice a little subdued, but very audible
to every body.

"Well, he is coming, you see; good news, I think.  Well, what do you
say to it?--I always told you he would be here again soon, did not
I?--Anne, my dear, did not I always tell you so, and you would not
believe me?--In town next week, you see--at the latest, I dare say; for
_she_ is as impatient as the black gentleman when any thing is to be
done; most likely they will be there to-morrow or Saturday.  As to her
illness, all nothing of course.  But it is an excellent thing to have
Frank among us again, so near as town.  They will stay a good while
when they do come, and he will be half his time with us.  This is
precisely what I wanted.  Well, pretty good news, is not it?  Have you
finished it?  Has Emma read it all?  Put it up, put it up; we will have
a good talk about it some other time, but it will not do now.  I shall
only just mention the circumstance to the others in a common way."

Mrs. Weston was most comfortably pleased on the occasion.  Her looks
and words had nothing to restrain them.  She was happy, she knew she
was happy, and knew she ought to be happy.  Her congratulations were
warm and open; but Emma could not speak so fluently.  _She_ was a
little occupied in weighing her own feelings, and trying to understand
the degree of her agitation, which she rather thought was considerable.

Mr. Weston, however, too eager to be very observant, too communicative
to want others to talk, was very well satisfied with what she did say,
and soon moved away to make the rest of his friends happy by a partial
communication of what the whole room must have overheard already.

It was well that he took every body's joy for granted, or he might not
have thought either Mr. Woodhouse or Mr. Knightley particularly
delighted.  They were the first entitled, after Mrs. Weston and Emma,
to be made happy;--from them he would have proceeded to Miss Fairfax,
but she was so deep in conversation with John Knightley, that it would
have been too positive an interruption; and finding himself close to
Mrs. Elton, and her attention disengaged, he necessarily began on the
subject with her.



CHAPTER XVIII


"I hope I shall soon have the pleasure of introducing my son to you,"
said Mr. Weston.

Mrs. Elton, very willing to suppose a particular compliment intended
her by such a hope, smiled most graciously.

"You have heard of a certain Frank Churchill, I presume," he
continued--"and know him to be my son, though he does not bear my
name."

"Oh! yes, and I shall be very happy in his acquaintance.  I am sure Mr.
Elton will lose no time in calling on him; and we shall both have great
pleasure in seeing him at the Vicarage."

"You are very obliging.--Frank will be extremely happy, I am sure.-- He
is to be in town next week, if not sooner.  We have notice of it in a
letter to-day. I met the letters in my way this morning, and seeing my
son's hand, presumed to open it--though it was not directed to me--it
was to Mrs. Weston.  She is his principal correspondent, I assure you.
I hardly ever get a letter."

"And so you absolutely opened what was directed to her!  Oh!  Mr.
Weston--(laughing affectedly) I must protest against that.--A most
dangerous precedent indeed!--I beg you will not let your neighbours
follow your example.--Upon my word, if this is what I am to expect, we
married women must begin to exert ourselves!--Oh!  Mr. Weston, I could
not have believed it of you!"

"Aye, we men are sad fellows.  You must take care of yourself, Mrs.
Elton.--This letter tells us--it is a short letter--written in a hurry,
merely to give us notice--it tells us that they are all coming up to
town directly, on Mrs. Churchill's account--she has not been well the
whole winter, and thinks Enscombe too cold for her--so they are all to
move southward without loss of time."

"Indeed!--from Yorkshire, I think.  Enscombe is in Yorkshire?"

"Yes, they are about one hundred and ninety miles from London.  a
considerable journey."

"Yes, upon my word, very considerable.  Sixty-five miles farther than
from Maple Grove to London.  But what is distance, Mr. Weston, to
people of large fortune?--You would be amazed to hear how my brother,
Mr. Suckling, sometimes flies about.  You will hardly believe me--but
twice in one week he and Mr. Bragge went to London and back again with
four horses."

"The evil of the distance from Enscombe," said Mr. Weston, "is, that
Mrs. Churchill, _as_ _we_ _understand_, has not been able to leave the
sofa for a week together.  In Frank's last letter she complained, he
said, of being too weak to get into her conservatory without having
both his arm and his uncle's! This, you know, speaks a great degree of
weakness--but now she is so impatient to be in town, that she means to
sleep only two nights on the road.--So Frank writes word.  Certainly,
delicate ladies have very extraordinary constitutions, Mrs. Elton.  You
must grant me that."

"No, indeed, I shall grant you nothing.  I Always take the part of my
own sex.  I do indeed.  I give you notice--You will find me a
formidable antagonist on that point.  I always stand up for women--and
I assure you, if you knew how Selina feels with respect to sleeping at
an inn, you would not wonder at Mrs. Churchill's making incredible
exertions to avoid it.  Selina says it is quite horror to her--and I
believe I have caught a little of her nicety.  She always travels with
her own sheets; an excellent precaution.  Does Mrs. Churchill do the
same?"

"Depend upon it, Mrs. Churchill does every thing that any other fine
lady ever did.  Mrs. Churchill will not be second to any lady in the
land for"--

Mrs. Elton eagerly interposed with,

"Oh!  Mr. Weston, do not mistake me.  Selina is no fine lady, I assure
you.  Do not run away with such an idea."

"Is not she?  Then she is no rule for Mrs. Churchill, who is as
thorough a fine lady as any body ever beheld."

Mrs. Elton began to think she had been wrong in disclaiming so warmly.
It was by no means her object to have it believed that her sister was
_not_ a fine lady; perhaps there was want of spirit in the pretence of
it;--and she was considering in what way she had best retract, when Mr.
Weston went on.

"Mrs. Churchill is not much in my good graces, as you may suspect--but
this is quite between ourselves.  She is very fond of Frank, and
therefore I would not speak ill of her.  Besides, she is out of health
now; but _that_ indeed, by her own account, she has always been.  I
would not say so to every body, Mrs. Elton, but I have not much faith
in Mrs. Churchill's illness."

"If she is really ill, why not go to Bath, Mr. Weston?--To Bath, or to
Clifton?"  "She has taken it into her head that Enscombe is too cold
for her.  The fact is, I suppose, that she is tired of Enscombe.  She
has now been a longer time stationary there, than she ever was before,
and she begins to want change.  It is a retired place.  A fine place,
but very retired."

"Aye--like Maple Grove, I dare say.  Nothing can stand more retired
from the road than Maple Grove.  Such an immense plantation all round
it!  You seem shut out from every thing--in the most complete
retirement.-- And Mrs. Churchill probably has not health or spirits
like Selina to enjoy that sort of seclusion.  Or, perhaps she may not
have resources enough in herself to be qualified for a country life.  I
always say a woman cannot have too many resources--and I feel very
thankful that I have so many myself as to be quite independent of
society."

"Frank was here in February for a fortnight."

"So I remember to have heard.  He will find an _addition_ to the
society of Highbury when he comes again; that is, if I may presume to
call myself an addition.  But perhaps he may never have heard of there
being such a creature in the world."

This was too loud a call for a compliment to be passed by, and Mr.
Weston, with a very good grace, immediately exclaimed,

"My dear madam!  Nobody but yourself could imagine such a thing
possible.  Not heard of you!--I believe Mrs. Weston's letters lately
have been full of very little else than Mrs. Elton."

He had done his duty and could return to his son.

"When Frank left us," continued he, "it was quite uncertain when we
might see him again, which makes this day's news doubly welcome.  It
has been completely unexpected.  That is, _I_ always had a strong
persuasion he would be here again soon, I was sure something favourable
would turn up--but nobody believed me.  He and Mrs. Weston were both
dreadfully desponding.  'How could he contrive to come?  And how could
it be supposed that his uncle and aunt would spare him again?' and so
forth--I always felt that something would happen in our favour; and so
it has, you see.  I have observed, Mrs. Elton, in the course of my
life, that if things are going untowardly one month, they are sure to
mend the next."

"Very true, Mr. Weston, perfectly true.  It is just what I used to say
to a certain gentleman in company in the days of courtship, when,
because things did not go quite right, did not proceed with all the
rapidity which suited his feelings, he was apt to be in despair, and
exclaim that he was sure at this rate it would be _May_ before Hymen's
saffron robe would be put on for us.  Oh! the pains I have been at to
dispel those gloomy ideas and give him cheerfuller views!  The
carriage--we had disappointments about the carriage;--one morning, I
remember, he came to me quite in despair."

She was stopped by a slight fit of coughing, and Mr. Weston instantly
seized the opportunity of going on.

"You were mentioning May.  May is the very month which Mrs. Churchill
is ordered, or has ordered herself, to spend in some warmer place than
Enscombe--in short, to spend in London; so that we have the agreeable
prospect of frequent visits from Frank the whole spring--precisely the
season of the year which one should have chosen for it:  days almost at
the longest; weather genial and pleasant, always inviting one out, and
never too hot for exercise.  When he was here before, we made the best
of it; but there was a good deal of wet, damp, cheerless weather; there
always is in February, you know, and we could not do half that we
intended.  Now will be the time.  This will be complete enjoyment; and
I do not know, Mrs. Elton, whether the uncertainty of our meetings, the
sort of constant expectation there will be of his coming in to-day or
to-morrow, and at any hour, may not be more friendly to happiness than
having him actually in the house.  I think it is so.  I think it is the
state of mind which gives most spirit and delight.  I hope you will be
pleased with my son; but you must not expect a prodigy.  He is
generally thought a fine young man, but do not expect a prodigy.  Mrs.
Weston's partiality for him is very great, and, as you may suppose,
most gratifying to me.  She thinks nobody equal to him."

"And I assure you, Mr. Weston, I have very little doubt that my opinion
will be decidedly in his favour.  I have heard so much in praise of Mr.
Frank Churchill.--At the same time it is fair to observe, that I am one
of those who always judge for themselves, and are by no means
implicitly guided by others.  I give you notice that as I find your
son, so I shall judge of him.--I am no flatterer."

Mr. Weston was musing.

"I hope," said he presently, "I have not been severe upon poor Mrs.
Churchill.  If she is ill I should be sorry to do her injustice; but
there are some traits in her character which make it difficult for me
to speak of her with the forbearance I could wish.  You cannot be
ignorant, Mrs. Elton, of my connexion with the family, nor of the
treatment I have met with; and, between ourselves, the whole blame of
it is to be laid to her.  She was the instigator.  Frank's mother would
never have been slighted as she was but for her.  Mr. Churchill has
pride; but his pride is nothing to his wife's: his is a quiet,
indolent, gentlemanlike sort of pride that would harm nobody, and only
make himself a little helpless and tiresome; but her pride is arrogance
and insolence!  And what inclines one less to bear, she has no fair
pretence of family or blood.  She was nobody when he married her,
barely the daughter of a gentleman; but ever since her being turned
into a Churchill she has out-Churchill'd them all in high and mighty
claims:  but in herself, I assure you, she is an upstart."

"Only think! well, that must be infinitely provoking!  I have quite a
horror of upstarts.  Maple Grove has given me a thorough disgust to
people of that sort; for there is a family in that neighbourhood who
are such an annoyance to my brother and sister from the airs they give
themselves!  Your description of Mrs. Churchill made me think of them
directly.  People of the name of Tupman, very lately settled there, and
encumbered with many low connexions, but giving themselves immense
airs, and expecting to be on a footing with the old established
families.  A year and a half is the very utmost that they can have
lived at West Hall; and how they got their fortune nobody knows.  They
came from Birmingham, which is not a place to promise much, you know,
Mr. Weston.  One has not great hopes from Birmingham.  I always say
there is something direful in the sound:  but nothing more is
positively known of the Tupmans, though a good many things I assure you
are suspected; and yet by their manners they evidently think themselves
equal even to my brother, Mr. Suckling, who happens to be one of their
nearest neighbours.  It is infinitely too bad.  Mr. Suckling, who has
been eleven years a resident at Maple Grove, and whose father had it
before him--I believe, at least--I am almost sure that old Mr. Suckling
had completed the purchase before his death."

They were interrupted.  Tea was carrying round, and Mr. Weston, having
said all that he wanted, soon took the opportunity of walking away.

After tea, Mr. and Mrs. Weston, and Mr. Elton sat down with Mr.
Woodhouse to cards.  The remaining five were left to their own powers,
and Emma doubted their getting on very well; for Mr. Knightley seemed
little disposed for conversation; Mrs. Elton was wanting notice, which
nobody had inclination to pay, and she was herself in a worry of
spirits which would have made her prefer being silent.

Mr. John Knightley proved more talkative than his brother.  He was to
leave them early the next day; and he soon began with--

"Well, Emma, I do not believe I have any thing more to say about the
boys; but you have your sister's letter, and every thing is down at
full length there we may be sure.  My charge would be much more concise
than her's, and probably not much in the same spirit; all that I have
to recommend being comprised in, do not spoil them, and do not physic
them."

"I rather hope to satisfy you both," said Emma, "for I shall do all in
my power to make them happy, which will be enough for Isabella; and
happiness must preclude false indulgence and physic."

"And if you find them troublesome, you must send them home again."

"That is very likely.  You think so, do not you?"

"I hope I am aware that they may be too noisy for your father--or even
may be some encumbrance to you, if your visiting engagements continue
to increase as much as they have done lately."

"Increase!"

"Certainly; you must be sensible that the last half-year has made a
great difference in your way of life."

"Difference!  No indeed I am not."

"There can be no doubt of your being much more engaged with company
than you used to be.  Witness this very time.  Here am I come down for
only one day, and you are engaged with a dinner-party!-- When did it
happen before, or any thing like it?  Your neighbourhood is increasing,
and you mix more with it.  A little while ago, every letter to Isabella
brought an account of fresh gaieties; dinners at Mr. Cole's, or balls
at the Crown.  The difference which Randalls, Randalls alone makes in
your goings-on, is very great."

"Yes," said his brother quickly, "it is Randalls that does it all."

"Very well--and as Randalls, I suppose, is not likely to have less
influence than heretofore, it strikes me as a possible thing, Emma,
that Henry and John may be sometimes in the way.  And if they are, I
only beg you to send them home."

"No," cried Mr. Knightley, "that need not be the consequence.  Let them
be sent to Donwell.  I shall certainly be at leisure."

"Upon my word," exclaimed Emma, "you amuse me!  I should like to know
how many of all my numerous engagements take place without your being
of the party; and why I am to be supposed in danger of wanting leisure
to attend to the little boys.  These amazing engagements of mine--what
have they been?  Dining once with the Coles--and having a ball talked
of, which never took place.  I can understand you--(nodding at Mr. John
Knightley)--your good fortune in meeting with so many of your friends
at once here, delights you too much to pass unnoticed.  But you,
(turning to Mr. Knightley,) who know how very, very seldom I am ever
two hours from Hartfield, why you should foresee such a series of
dissipation for me, I cannot imagine.  And as to my dear little boys, I
must say, that if Aunt Emma has not time for them, I do not think they
would fare much better with Uncle Knightley, who is absent from home
about five hours where she is absent one--and who, when he is at home,
is either reading to himself or settling his accounts."

Mr. Knightley seemed to be trying not to smile; and succeeded without
difficulty, upon Mrs. Elton's beginning to talk to him.



VOLUME III



CHAPTER I


A very little quiet reflection was enough to satisfy Emma as to the
nature of her agitation on hearing this news of Frank Churchill.  She
was soon convinced that it was not for herself she was feeling at all
apprehensive or embarrassed; it was for him.  Her own attachment had
really subsided into a mere nothing; it was not worth thinking of;--
but if he, who had undoubtedly been always so much the most in love of
the two, were to be returning with the same warmth of sentiment which
he had taken away, it would be very distressing.  If a separation of
two months should not have cooled him, there were dangers and evils
before her:--caution for him and for herself would be necessary.  She
did not mean to have her own affections entangled again, and it would
be incumbent on her to avoid any encouragement of his.

She wished she might be able to keep him from an absolute declaration.
That would be so very painful a conclusion of their present
acquaintance!  and yet, she could not help rather anticipating
something decisive.  She felt as if the spring would not pass without
bringing a crisis, an event, a something to alter her present composed
and tranquil state.

It was not very long, though rather longer than Mr. Weston had
foreseen, before she had the power of forming some opinion of Frank
Churchill's feelings.  The Enscombe family were not in town quite so
soon as had been imagined, but he was at Highbury very soon afterwards.
He rode down for a couple of hours; he could not yet do more; but as he
came from Randalls immediately to Hartfield, she could then exercise
all her quick observation, and speedily determine how he was
influenced, and how she must act.  They met with the utmost
friendliness.  There could be no doubt of his great pleasure in seeing
her.  But she had an almost instant doubt of his caring for her as he
had done, of his feeling the same tenderness in the same degree.  She
watched him well.  It was a clear thing he was less in love than he had
been.  Absence, with the conviction probably of her indifference, had
produced this very natural and very desirable effect.

He was in high spirits; as ready to talk and laugh as ever, and seemed
delighted to speak of his former visit, and recur to old stories: and
he was not without agitation.  It was not in his calmness that she read
his comparative difference.  He was not calm; his spirits were
evidently fluttered; there was restlessness about him.  Lively as he
was, it seemed a liveliness that did not satisfy himself; but what
decided her belief on the subject, was his staying only a quarter of an
hour, and hurrying away to make other calls in Highbury.  "He had seen
a group of old acquaintance in the street as he passed--he had not
stopped, he would not stop for more than a word--but he had the vanity
to think they would be disappointed if he did not call, and much as he
wished to stay longer at Hartfield, he must hurry off." She had no
doubt as to his being less in love--but neither his agitated spirits,
nor his hurrying away, seemed like a perfect cure; and she was rather
inclined to think it implied a dread of her returning power, and a
discreet resolution of not trusting himself with her long.

This was the only visit from Frank Churchill in the course of ten days.
He was often hoping, intending to come--but was always prevented.  His
aunt could not bear to have him leave her.  Such was his own account at
Randall's. If he were quite sincere, if he really tried to come, it was
to be inferred that Mrs. Churchill's removal to London had been of no
service to the wilful or nervous part of her disorder.  That she was
really ill was very certain; he had declared himself convinced of it,
at Randalls.  Though much might be fancy, he could not doubt, when he
looked back, that she was in a weaker state of health than she had been
half a year ago.  He did not believe it to proceed from any thing that
care and medicine might not remove, or at least that she might not have
many years of existence before her; but he could not be prevailed on,
by all his father's doubts, to say that her complaints were merely
imaginary, or that she was as strong as ever.

It soon appeared that London was not the place for her.  She could not
endure its noise.  Her nerves were under continual irritation and
suffering; and by the ten days' end, her nephew's letter to Randalls
communicated a change of plan.  They were going to remove immediately
to Richmond.  Mrs. Churchill had been recommended to the medical skill
of an eminent person there, and had otherwise a fancy for the place.  A
ready-furnished house in a favourite spot was engaged, and much benefit
expected from the change.

Emma heard that Frank wrote in the highest spirits of this arrangement,
and seemed most fully to appreciate the blessing of having two months
before him of such near neighbourhood to many dear friends--for the
house was taken for May and June.  She was told that now he wrote with
the greatest confidence of being often with them, almost as often as he
could even wish.

Emma saw how Mr. Weston understood these joyous prospects.  He was
considering her as the source of all the happiness they offered.  She
hoped it was not so.  Two months must bring it to the proof.

Mr. Weston's own happiness was indisputable.  He was quite delighted.
It was the very circumstance he could have wished for.  Now, it would
be really having Frank in their neighbourhood.  What were nine miles to
a young man?--An hour's ride.  He would be always coming over.  The
difference in that respect of Richmond and London was enough to make
the whole difference of seeing him always and seeing him never.
Sixteen miles--nay, eighteen--it must be full eighteen to
Manchester-street--was a serious obstacle.  Were he ever able to get
away, the day would be spent in coming and returning.  There was no
comfort in having him in London; he might as well be at Enscombe; but
Richmond was the very distance for easy intercourse.  Better than
nearer!

One good thing was immediately brought to a certainty by this
removal,--the ball at the Crown.  It had not been forgotten before,
but it had been soon acknowledged vain to attempt to fix a day.  Now,
however, it was absolutely to be; every preparation was resumed, and
very soon after the Churchills had removed to Richmond, a few lines
from Frank, to say that his aunt felt already much better for the
change, and that he had no doubt of being able to join them for
twenty-four hours at any given time, induced them to name as early a
day as possible.

Mr. Weston's ball was to be a real thing.  A very few to-morrows stood
between the young people of Highbury and happiness.

Mr. Woodhouse was resigned.  The time of year lightened the evil to
him.  May was better for every thing than February.  Mrs. Bates was
engaged to spend the evening at Hartfield, James had due notice, and he
sanguinely hoped that neither dear little Henry nor dear little John
would have any thing the matter with them, while dear Emma were gone.



CHAPTER II


No misfortune occurred, again to prevent the ball.  The day approached,
the day arrived; and after a morning of some anxious watching, Frank
Churchill, in all the certainty of his own self, reached Randalls
before dinner, and every thing was safe.

No second meeting had there yet been between him and Emma.  The room at
the Crown was to witness it;--but it would be better than a common
meeting in a crowd.  Mr. Weston had been so very earnest in his
entreaties for her arriving there as soon as possible after themselves,
for the purpose of taking her opinion as to the propriety and comfort
of the rooms before any other persons came, that she could not refuse
him, and must therefore spend some quiet interval in the young man's
company.  She was to convey Harriet, and they drove to the Crown in
good time, the Randalls party just sufficiently before them.

Frank Churchill seemed to have been on the watch; and though he did not
say much, his eyes declared that he meant to have a delightful evening.
They all walked about together, to see that every thing was as it
should be; and within a few minutes were joined by the contents of
another carriage, which Emma could not hear the sound of at first,
without great surprize.  "So unreasonably early!" she was going to
exclaim; but she presently found that it was a family of old friends,
who were coming, like herself, by particular desire, to help Mr.
Weston's judgment; and they were so very closely followed by another
carriage of cousins, who had been entreated to come early with the same
distinguishing earnestness, on the same errand, that it seemed as if
half the company might soon be collected together for the purpose of
preparatory inspection.

Emma perceived that her taste was not the only taste on which Mr.
Weston depended, and felt, that to be the favourite and intimate of a
man who had so many intimates and confidantes, was not the very first
distinction in the scale of vanity.  She liked his open manners, but a
little less of open-heartedness would have made him a higher
character.--General benevolence, but not general friendship, made a man
what he ought to be.-- She could fancy such a man.  The whole party
walked about, and looked, and praised again; and then, having nothing
else to do, formed a sort of half-circle round the fire, to observe in
their various modes, till other subjects were started, that, though
_May_, a fire in the evening was still very pleasant.

Emma found that it was not Mr. Weston's fault that the number of privy
councillors was not yet larger.  They had stopped at Mrs. Bates's door
to offer the use of their carriage, but the aunt and niece were to be
brought by the Eltons.

Frank was standing by her, but not steadily; there was a restlessness,
which shewed a mind not at ease.  He was looking about, he was going to
the door, he was watching for the sound of other carriages,--impatient
to begin, or afraid of being always near her.

Mrs. Elton was spoken of.  "I think she must be here soon," said he.
"I have a great curiosity to see Mrs. Elton, I have heard so much of
her.  It cannot be long, I think, before she comes."

A carriage was heard.  He was on the move immediately; but coming back,
said,

"I am forgetting that I am not acquainted with her.  I have never seen
either Mr. or Mrs. Elton.  I have no business to put myself forward."

Mr. and Mrs. Elton appeared; and all the smiles and the proprieties
passed.

"But Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax!" said Mr. Weston, looking about.  "We
thought you were to bring them."

The mistake had been slight.  The carriage was sent for them now.  Emma
longed to know what Frank's first opinion of Mrs. Elton might be; how
he was affected by the studied elegance of her dress, and her smiles of
graciousness.  He was immediately qualifying himself to form an
opinion, by giving her very proper attention, after the introduction
had passed.

In a few minutes the carriage returned.--Somebody talked of rain.-- "I
will see that there are umbrellas, sir," said Frank to his father:
"Miss Bates must not be forgotten:"  and away he went.  Mr. Weston was
following; but Mrs. Elton detained him, to gratify him by her opinion
of his son; and so briskly did she begin, that the young man himself,
though by no means moving slowly, could hardly be out of hearing.

"A very fine young man indeed, Mr. Weston.  You know I candidly told
you I should form my own opinion; and I am happy to say that I am
extremely pleased with him.--You may believe me.  I never compliment.
I think him a very handsome young man, and his manners are precisely
what I like and approve--so truly the gentleman, without the least
conceit or puppyism.  You must know I have a vast dislike to puppies--
quite a horror of them.  They were never tolerated at Maple Grove.
Neither Mr. Suckling nor me had ever any patience with them; and we
used sometimes to say very cutting things!  Selina, who is mild almost
to a fault, bore with them much better."

While she talked of his son, Mr. Weston's attention was chained; but
when she got to Maple Grove, he could recollect that there were ladies
just arriving to be attended to, and with happy smiles must hurry away.

Mrs. Elton turned to Mrs. Weston.  "I have no doubt of its being our
carriage with Miss Bates and Jane.  Our coachman and horses are so
extremely expeditious!--I believe we drive faster than any body.-- What
a pleasure it is to send one's carriage for a friend!-- I understand
you were so kind as to offer, but another time it will be quite
unnecessary.  You may be very sure I shall always take care of _them_."

Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax, escorted by the two gentlemen, walked into
the room; and Mrs. Elton seemed to think it as much her duty as Mrs.
Weston's to receive them.  Her gestures and movements might be
understood by any one who looked on like Emma; but her words, every
body's words, were soon lost under the incessant flow of Miss Bates,
who came in talking, and had not finished her speech under many minutes
after her being admitted into the circle at the fire.  As the door
opened she was heard,

"So very obliging of you!--No rain at all.  Nothing to signify.  I do
not care for myself.  Quite thick shoes.  And Jane declares--
Well!--(as soon as she was within the door) Well!  This is brilliant
indeed!--This is admirable!--Excellently contrived, upon my word.
Nothing wanting.  Could not have imagined it.--So well lighted up!--
Jane, Jane, look!--did you ever see any thing?  Oh!  Mr. Weston, you
must really have had Aladdin's lamp.  Good Mrs. Stokes would not know
her own room again.  I saw her as I came in; she was standing in the
entrance.  'Oh!  Mrs. Stokes,' said I--but I had not time for more."
She was now met by Mrs. Weston.-- "Very well, I thank you, ma'am. I
hope you are quite well.  Very happy to hear it.  So afraid you might
have a headache!--seeing you pass by so often, and knowing how much
trouble you must have.  Delighted to hear it indeed.  Ah! dear Mrs.
Elton, so obliged to you for the carriage!--excellent time.  Jane and I
quite ready.  Did not keep the horses a moment.  Most comfortable
carriage.-- Oh! and I am sure our thanks are due to you, Mrs. Weston,
on that score.  Mrs. Elton had most kindly sent Jane a note, or we
should have been.-- But two such offers in one day!--Never were such
neighbours.  I said to my mother, 'Upon my word, ma'am--.'  Thank you,
my mother is remarkably well.  Gone to Mr. Woodhouse's. I made her take
her shawl--for the evenings are not warm--her large new shawl-- Mrs.
Dixon's wedding-present.--So kind of her to think of my mother!  Bought
at Weymouth, you know--Mr. Dixon's choice.  There were three others,
Jane says, which they hesitated about some time.  Colonel Campbell
rather preferred an olive.  My dear Jane, are you sure you did not wet
your feet?--It was but a drop or two, but I am so afraid:--but Mr.
Frank Churchill was so extremely--and there was a mat to step upon--I
shall never forget his extreme politeness.--Oh!  Mr. Frank Churchill, I
must tell you my mother's spectacles have never been in fault since;
the rivet never came out again.  My mother often talks of your
good-nature.  Does not she, Jane?--Do not we often talk of Mr. Frank
Churchill?-- Ah! here's Miss Woodhouse.--Dear Miss Woodhouse, how do
you do?-- Very well I thank you, quite well.  This is meeting quite in
fairy-land!-- Such a transformation!--Must not compliment, I know
(eyeing Emma most complacently)--that would be rude--but upon my word,
Miss Woodhouse, you do look--how do you like Jane's hair?--You are a
judge.-- She did it all herself.  Quite wonderful how she does her
hair!-- No hairdresser from London I think could.--Ah! Dr. Hughes I
declare--and Mrs. Hughes.  Must go and speak to Dr. and Mrs. Hughes
for a moment.--How do you do?  How do you do?--Very well, I thank you.
This is delightful, is not it?--Where's dear Mr. Richard?-- Oh! there
he is.  Don't disturb him.  Much better employed talking to the young
ladies.  How do you do, Mr. Richard?--I saw you the other day as you
rode through the town--Mrs. Otway, I protest!--and good Mr. Otway, and
Miss Otway and Miss Caroline.--Such a host of friends!--and Mr. George
and Mr. Arthur!--How do you do?  How do you all do?--Quite well, I am
much obliged to you.  Never better.-- Don't I hear another
carriage?--Who can this be?--very likely the worthy Coles.--Upon my
word, this is charming to be standing about among such friends!  And
such a noble fire!--I am quite roasted.  No coffee, I thank you, for
me--never take coffee.--A little tea if you please, sir, by and
bye,--no hurry--Oh! here it comes.  Every thing so good!"

Frank Churchill returned to his station by Emma; and as soon as Miss
Bates was quiet, she found herself necessarily overhearing the
discourse of Mrs. Elton and Miss Fairfax, who were standing a little
way behind her.--He was thoughtful.  Whether he were overhearing too,
she could not determine.  After a good many compliments to Jane on her
dress and look, compliments very quietly and properly taken, Mrs. Elton
was evidently wanting to be complimented herself--and it was, "How do
you like my gown?--How do you like my trimming?-- How has Wright done
my hair?"--with many other relative questions, all answered with
patient politeness.  Mrs. Elton then said, "Nobody can think less of
dress in general than I do--but upon such an occasion as this, when
every body's eyes are so much upon me, and in compliment to the
Westons--who I have no doubt are giving this ball chiefly to do me
honour--I would not wish to be inferior to others.  And I see very few
pearls in the room except mine.-- So Frank Churchill is a capital
dancer, I understand.--We shall see if our styles suit.--A fine young
man certainly is Frank Churchill.  I like him very well."

At this moment Frank began talking so vigorously, that Emma could not
but imagine he had overheard his own praises, and did not want to hear
more;--and the voices of the ladies were drowned for a while, till
another suspension brought Mrs. Elton's tones again distinctly
forward.--Mr. Elton had just joined them, and his wife was exclaiming,

"Oh! you have found us out at last, have you, in our seclusion?-- I was
this moment telling Jane, I thought you would begin to be impatient for
tidings of us."

"Jane!"--repeated Frank Churchill, with a look of surprize and
displeasure.-- "That is easy--but Miss Fairfax does not disapprove it,
I suppose."

"How do you like Mrs. Elton?" said Emma in a whisper.

"Not at all."

"You are ungrateful."

"Ungrateful!--What do you mean?"  Then changing from a frown to a
smile--"No, do not tell me--I do not want to know what you mean.--
Where is my father?--When are we to begin dancing?"

Emma could hardly understand him; he seemed in an odd humour.  He
walked off to find his father, but was quickly back again with both Mr.
and Mrs. Weston.  He had met with them in a little perplexity, which
must be laid before Emma.  It had just occurred to Mrs. Weston that
Mrs. Elton must be asked to begin the ball; that she would expect it;
which interfered with all their wishes of giving Emma that
distinction.--Emma heard the sad truth with fortitude.

"And what are we to do for a proper partner for her?" said Mr. Weston.
"She will think Frank ought to ask her."

Frank turned instantly to Emma, to claim her former promise; and
boasted himself an engaged man, which his father looked his most
perfect approbation of--and it then appeared that Mrs. Weston was
wanting _him_ to dance with Mrs. Elton himself, and that their business
was to help to persuade him into it, which was done pretty soon.-- Mr.
Weston and Mrs. Elton led the way, Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss
Woodhouse followed.  Emma must submit to stand second to Mrs. Elton,
though she had always considered the ball as peculiarly for her.  It
was almost enough to make her think of marrying.  Mrs. Elton had
undoubtedly the advantage, at this time, in vanity completely
gratified; for though she had intended to begin with Frank Churchill,
she could not lose by the change.  Mr. Weston might be his son's
superior.-- In spite of this little rub, however, Emma was smiling with
enjoyment, delighted to see the respectable length of the set as it was
forming, and to feel that she had so many hours of unusual festivity
before her.-- She was more disturbed by Mr. Knightley's not dancing
than by any thing else.--There he was, among the standers-by, where he
ought not to be; he ought to be dancing,--not classing himself with the
husbands, and fathers, and whist-players, who were pretending to feel
an interest in the dance till their rubbers were made up,--so young as
he looked!-- He could not have appeared to greater advantage perhaps
anywhere, than where he had placed himself.  His tall, firm, upright
figure, among the bulky forms and stooping shoulders of the elderly
men, was such as Emma felt must draw every body's eyes; and, excepting
her own partner, there was not one among the whole row of young men who
could be compared with him.--He moved a few steps nearer, and those few
steps were enough to prove in how gentlemanlike a manner, with what
natural grace, he must have danced, would he but take the
trouble.--Whenever she caught his eye, she forced him to smile; but in
general he was looking grave.  She wished he could love a ballroom
better, and could like Frank Churchill better.-- He seemed often
observing her.  She must not flatter herself that he thought of her
dancing, but if he were criticising her behaviour, she did not feel
afraid.  There was nothing like flirtation between her and her partner.
They seemed more like cheerful, easy friends, than lovers.  That Frank
Churchill thought less of her than he had done, was indubitable.

The ball proceeded pleasantly.  The anxious cares, the incessant
attentions of Mrs. Weston, were not thrown away.  Every body seemed
happy; and the praise of being a delightful ball, which is seldom
bestowed till after a ball has ceased to be, was repeatedly given in
the very beginning of the existence of this.  Of very important, very
recordable events, it was not more productive than such meetings
usually are.  There was one, however, which Emma thought something
of.--The two last dances before supper were begun, and Harriet had no
partner;--the only young lady sitting down;--and so equal had been
hitherto the number of dancers, that how there could be any one
disengaged was the wonder!--But Emma's wonder lessened soon afterwards,
on seeing Mr. Elton sauntering about.  He would not ask Harriet to
dance if it were possible to be avoided: she was sure he would not--and
she was expecting him every moment to escape into the card-room.

Escape, however, was not his plan.  He came to the part of the room
where the sitters-by were collected, spoke to some, and walked about in
front of them, as if to shew his liberty, and his resolution of
maintaining it.  He did not omit being sometimes directly before Miss
Smith, or speaking to those who were close to her.-- Emma saw it.  She
was not yet dancing; she was working her way up from the bottom, and
had therefore leisure to look around, and by only turning her head a
little she saw it all.  When she was half-way up the set, the whole
group were exactly behind her, and she would no longer allow her eyes
to watch; but Mr. Elton was so near, that she heard every syllable of a
dialogue which just then took place between him and Mrs. Weston; and
she perceived that his wife, who was standing immediately above her,
was not only listening also, but even encouraging him by significant
glances.--The kind-hearted, gentle Mrs. Weston had left her seat to
join him and say, "Do not you dance, Mr. Elton?" to which his prompt
reply was, "Most readily, Mrs. Weston, if you will dance with me."

"Me!--oh! no--I would get you a better partner than myself.  I am no
dancer."

"If Mrs. Gilbert wishes to dance," said he, "I shall have great
pleasure, I am sure--for, though beginning to feel myself rather an old
married man, and that my dancing days are over, it would give me very
great pleasure at any time to stand up with an old friend like Mrs.
Gilbert."

"Mrs. Gilbert does not mean to dance, but there is a young lady
disengaged whom I should be very glad to see dancing--Miss Smith."
"Miss Smith!--oh!--I had not observed.--You are extremely obliging--
and if I were not an old married man.--But my dancing days are over,
Mrs. Weston.  You will excuse me.  Any thing else I should be most
happy to do, at your command--but my dancing days are over."

Mrs. Weston said no more; and Emma could imagine with what surprize and
mortification she must be returning to her seat.  This was Mr. Elton!
the amiable, obliging, gentle Mr. Elton.-- She looked round for a
moment; he had joined Mr. Knightley at a little distance, and was
arranging himself for settled conversation, while smiles of high glee
passed between him and his wife.

She would not look again.  Her heart was in a glow, and she feared her
face might be as hot.

In another moment a happier sight caught her;--Mr. Knightley leading
Harriet to the set!--Never had she been more surprized, seldom more
delighted, than at that instant.  She was all pleasure and gratitude,
both for Harriet and herself, and longed to be thanking him; and though
too distant for speech, her countenance said much, as soon as she could
catch his eye again.

His dancing proved to be just what she had believed it, extremely good;
and Harriet would have seemed almost too lucky, if it had not been for
the cruel state of things before, and for the very complete enjoyment
and very high sense of the distinction which her happy features
announced.  It was not thrown away on her, she bounded higher than
ever, flew farther down the middle, and was in a continual course of
smiles.

Mr. Elton had retreated into the card-room, looking (Emma trusted) very
foolish.  She did not think he was quite so hardened as his wife,
though growing very like her;--_she_ spoke some of her feelings, by
observing audibly to her partner,

"Knightley has taken pity on poor little Miss Smith!--Very goodnatured,
I declare."

Supper was announced.  The move began; and Miss Bates might be heard
from that moment, without interruption, till her being seated at table
and taking up her spoon.

"Jane, Jane, my dear Jane, where are you?--Here is your tippet.  Mrs.
Weston begs you to put on your tippet.  She says she is afraid there
will be draughts in the passage, though every thing has been done--One
door nailed up--Quantities of matting--My dear Jane, indeed you must.
Mr. Churchill, oh! you are too obliging!  How well you put it on!--so
gratified!  Excellent dancing indeed!-- Yes, my dear, I ran home, as I
said I should, to help grandmama to bed, and got back again, and nobody
missed me.--I set off without saying a word, just as I told you.
Grandmama was quite well, had a charming evening with Mr. Woodhouse, a
vast deal of chat, and backgammon.--Tea was made downstairs, biscuits
and baked apples and wine before she came away:  amazing luck in some
of her throws: and she inquired a great deal about you, how you were
amused, and who were your partners.  'Oh!' said I, 'I shall not
forestall Jane; I left her dancing with Mr. George Otway; she will love
to tell you all about it herself to-morrow: her first partner was Mr.
Elton, I do not know who will ask her next, perhaps Mr. William Cox.'
My dear sir, you are too obliging.--Is there nobody you would not
rather?--I am not helpless.  Sir, you are most kind.  Upon my word,
Jane on one arm, and me on the other!--Stop, stop, let us stand a
little back, Mrs. Elton is going; dear Mrs. Elton, how elegant she
looks!--Beautiful lace!--Now we all follow in her train.  Quite the
queen of the evening!--Well, here we are at the passage.  Two steps,
Jane, take care of the two steps.  Oh! no, there is but one.  Well, I
was persuaded there were two.  How very odd!  I was convinced there
were two, and there is but one.  I never saw any thing equal to the
comfort and style--Candles everywhere.--I was telling you of your
grandmama, Jane,--There was a little disappointment.-- The baked apples
and biscuits, excellent in their way, you know; but there was a
delicate fricassee of sweetbread and some asparagus brought in at
first, and good Mr. Woodhouse, not thinking the asparagus quite boiled
enough, sent it all out again.  Now there is nothing grandmama loves
better than sweetbread and asparagus--so she was rather disappointed,
but we agreed we would not speak of it to any body, for fear of its
getting round to dear Miss Woodhouse, who would be so very much
concerned!--Well, this is brilliant!  I am all amazement! could not
have supposed any thing!--Such elegance and profusion!--I have seen
nothing like it since-- Well, where shall we sit? where shall we sit?
Anywhere, so that Jane is not in a draught.  Where _I_ sit is of no
consequence.  Oh! do you recommend this side?--Well, I am sure, Mr.
Churchill--only it seems too good--but just as you please.  What you
direct in this house cannot be wrong.  Dear Jane, how shall we ever
recollect half the dishes for grandmama?  Soup too!  Bless me!  I
should not be helped so soon, but it smells most excellent, and I
cannot help beginning."

Emma had no opportunity of speaking to Mr. Knightley till after supper;
but, when they were all in the ballroom again, her eyes invited him
irresistibly to come to her and be thanked.  He was warm in his
reprobation of Mr. Elton's conduct; it had been unpardonable rudeness;
and Mrs. Elton's looks also received the due share of censure.

"They aimed at wounding more than Harriet," said he.  "Emma, why is it
that they are your enemies?"

He looked with smiling penetration; and, on receiving no answer, added,
"_She_ ought not to be angry with you, I suspect, whatever he may
be.--To that surmise, you say nothing, of course; but confess, Emma,
that you did want him to marry Harriet."

"I did," replied Emma, "and they cannot forgive me."

He shook his head; but there was a smile of indulgence with it, and he
only said,

"I shall not scold you.  I leave you to your own reflections."

"Can you trust me with such flatterers?--Does my vain spirit ever tell
me I am wrong?"

"Not your vain spirit, but your serious spirit.--If one leads you
wrong, I am sure the other tells you of it."

"I do own myself to have been completely mistaken in Mr. Elton.  There
is a littleness about him which you discovered, and which I did not:
and I was fully convinced of his being in love with Harriet.  It was
through a series of strange blunders!"

"And, in return for your acknowledging so much, I will do you the
justice to say, that you would have chosen for him better than he has
chosen for himself.--Harriet Smith has some first-rate qualities, which
Mrs. Elton is totally without.  An unpretending, single-minded, artless
girl--infinitely to be preferred by any man of sense and taste to such
a woman as Mrs. Elton.  I found Harriet more conversable than I
expected."

Emma was extremely gratified.--They were interrupted by the bustle of
Mr. Weston calling on every body to begin dancing again.

"Come Miss Woodhouse, Miss Otway, Miss Fairfax, what are you all
doing?-- Come Emma, set your companions the example.  Every body is
lazy!  Every body is asleep!"

"I am ready," said Emma, "whenever I am wanted."

"Whom are you going to dance with?" asked Mr. Knightley.

She hesitated a moment, and then replied, "With you, if you will ask
me."

"Will you?" said he, offering his hand.

"Indeed I will.  You have shewn that you can dance, and you know we are
not really so much brother and sister as to make it at all improper."

"Brother and sister! no, indeed."



CHAPTER III


This little explanation with Mr. Knightley gave Emma considerable
pleasure.  It was one of the agreeable recollections of the ball, which
she walked about the lawn the next morning to enjoy.--She was extremely
glad that they had come to so good an understanding respecting the
Eltons, and that their opinions of both husband and wife were so much
alike; and his praise of Harriet, his concession in her favour, was
peculiarly gratifying.  The impertinence of the Eltons, which for a few
minutes had threatened to ruin the rest of her evening, had been the
occasion of some of its highest satisfactions; and she looked forward
to another happy result--the cure of Harriet's infatuation.-- From
Harriet's manner of speaking of the circumstance before they quitted
the ballroom, she had strong hopes.  It seemed as if her eyes were
suddenly opened, and she were enabled to see that Mr. Elton was not the
superior creature she had believed him.  The fever was over, and Emma
could harbour little fear of the pulse being quickened again by
injurious courtesy.  She depended on the evil feelings of the Eltons
for supplying all the discipline of pointed neglect that could be
farther requisite.--Harriet rational, Frank Churchill not too much in
love, and Mr. Knightley not wanting to quarrel with her, how very happy
a summer must be before her!

She was not to see Frank Churchill this morning.  He had told her that
he could not allow himself the pleasure of stopping at Hartfield, as he
was to be at home by the middle of the day.  She did not regret it.

Having arranged all these matters, looked them through, and put them
all to rights, she was just turning to the house with spirits freshened
up for the demands of the two little boys, as well as of their
grandpapa, when the great iron sweep-gate opened, and two persons
entered whom she had never less expected to see together--Frank
Churchill, with Harriet leaning on his arm--actually Harriet!--A moment
sufficed to convince her that something extraordinary had happened.
Harriet looked white and frightened, and he was trying to cheer her.--
The iron gates and the front-door were not twenty yards asunder;--they
were all three soon in the hall, and Harriet immediately sinking into a
chair fainted away.

A young lady who faints, must be recovered; questions must be answered,
and surprizes be explained.  Such events are very interesting, but the
suspense of them cannot last long.  A few minutes made Emma acquainted
with the whole.

Miss Smith, and Miss Bickerton, another parlour boarder at Mrs.
Goddard's, who had been also at the ball, had walked out together, and
taken a road, the Richmond road, which, though apparently public enough
for safety, had led them into alarm.--About half a mile beyond
Highbury, making a sudden turn, and deeply shaded by elms on each side,
it became for a considerable stretch very retired; and when the young
ladies had advanced some way into it, they had suddenly perceived at a
small distance before them, on a broader patch of greensward by the
side, a party of gipsies.  A child on the watch, came towards them to
beg; and Miss Bickerton, excessively frightened, gave a great scream,
and calling on Harriet to follow her, ran up a steep bank, cleared a
slight hedge at the top, and made the best of her way by a short cut
back to Highbury.  But poor Harriet could not follow.  She had suffered
very much from cramp after dancing, and her first attempt to mount the
bank brought on such a return of it as made her absolutely powerless--
and in this state, and exceedingly terrified, she had been obliged to
remain.

How the trampers might have behaved, had the young ladies been more
courageous, must be doubtful; but such an invitation for attack could
not be resisted; and Harriet was soon assailed by half a dozen
children, headed by a stout woman and a great boy, all clamorous, and
impertinent in look, though not absolutely in word.--More and more
frightened, she immediately promised them money, and taking out her
purse, gave them a shilling, and begged them not to want more, or to
use her ill.--She was then able to walk, though but slowly, and was
moving away--but her terror and her purse were too tempting, and she
was followed, or rather surrounded, by the whole gang, demanding more.

In this state Frank Churchill had found her, she trembling and
conditioning, they loud and insolent.  By a most fortunate chance his
leaving Highbury had been delayed so as to bring him to her assistance
at this critical moment.  The pleasantness of the morning had induced
him to walk forward, and leave his horses to meet him by another road,
a mile or two beyond Highbury--and happening to have borrowed a pair
of scissors the night before of Miss Bates, and to have forgotten to
restore them, he had been obliged to stop at her door, and go in for a
few minutes: he was therefore later than he had intended; and being on
foot, was unseen by the whole party till almost close to them.  The
terror which the woman and boy had been creating in Harriet was then
their own portion.  He had left them completely frightened; and Harriet
eagerly clinging to him, and hardly able to speak, had just strength
enough to reach Hartfield, before her spirits were quite overcome.  It
was his idea to bring her to Hartfield: he had thought of no other
place.

This was the amount of the whole story,--of his communication and of
Harriet's as soon as she had recovered her senses and speech.-- He
dared not stay longer than to see her well; these several delays left
him not another minute to lose; and Emma engaging to give assurance of
her safety to Mrs. Goddard, and notice of there being such a set of
people in the neighbourhood to Mr. Knightley, he set off, with all the
grateful blessings that she could utter for her friend and herself.

Such an adventure as this,--a fine young man and a lovely young woman
thrown together in such a way, could hardly fail of suggesting certain
ideas to the coldest heart and the steadiest brain.  So Emma thought,
at least.  Could a linguist, could a grammarian, could even a
mathematician have seen what she did, have witnessed their appearance
together, and heard their history of it, without feeling that
circumstances had been at work to make them peculiarly interesting to
each other?--How much more must an imaginist, like herself, be on fire
with speculation and foresight!--especially with such a groundwork of
anticipation as her mind had already made.

It was a very extraordinary thing!  Nothing of the sort had ever
occurred before to any young ladies in the place, within her memory; no
rencontre, no alarm of the kind;--and now it had happened to the very
person, and at the very hour, when the other very person was chancing
to pass by to rescue her!--It certainly was very extraordinary!--And
knowing, as she did, the favourable state of mind of each at this
period, it struck her the more.  He was wishing to get the better of
his attachment to herself, she just recovering from her mania for Mr.
Elton.  It seemed as if every thing united to promise the most
interesting consequences.  It was not possible that the occurrence
should not be strongly recommending each to the other.

In the few minutes' conversation which she had yet had with him, while
Harriet had been partially insensible, he had spoken of her terror, her
naivete, her fervour as she seized and clung to his arm, with a
sensibility amused and delighted; and just at last, after Harriet's own
account had been given, he had expressed his indignation at the
abominable folly of Miss Bickerton in the warmest terms.  Every thing
was to take its natural course, however, neither impelled nor assisted.
She would not stir a step, nor drop a hint.  No, she had had enough of
interference.  There could be no harm in a scheme, a mere passive
scheme.  It was no more than a wish.  Beyond it she would on no account
proceed.

Emma's first resolution was to keep her father from the knowledge of
what had passed,--aware of the anxiety and alarm it would occasion: but
she soon felt that concealment must be impossible.  Within half an hour
it was known all over Highbury.  It was the very event to engage those
who talk most, the young and the low; and all the youth and servants in
the place were soon in the happiness of frightful news.  The last
night's ball seemed lost in the gipsies.  Poor Mr. Woodhouse trembled
as he sat, and, as Emma had foreseen, would scarcely be satisfied
without their promising never to go beyond the shrubbery again.  It was
some comfort to him that many inquiries after himself and Miss
Woodhouse (for his neighbours knew that he loved to be inquired after),
as well as Miss Smith, were coming in during the rest of the day; and
he had the pleasure of returning for answer, that they were all very
indifferent--which, though not exactly true, for she was perfectly
well, and Harriet not much otherwise, Emma would not interfere with.
She had an unhappy state of health in general for the child of such a
man, for she hardly knew what indisposition was; and if he did not
invent illnesses for her, she could make no figure in a message.

The gipsies did not wait for the operations of justice; they took
themselves off in a hurry.  The young ladies of Highbury might have
walked again in safety before their panic began, and the whole history
dwindled soon into a matter of little importance but to Emma and her
nephews:--in her imagination it maintained its ground, and Henry and
John were still asking every day for the story of Harriet and the
gipsies, and still tenaciously setting her right if she varied in the
slightest particular from the original recital.



CHAPTER IV


A very few days had passed after this adventure, when Harriet came one
morning to Emma with a small parcel in her hand, and after sitting down
and hesitating, thus began:

"Miss Woodhouse--if you are at leisure--I have something that I should
like to tell you--a sort of confession to make--and then, you know, it
will be over."

Emma was a good deal surprized; but begged her to speak.  There was a
seriousness in Harriet's manner which prepared her, quite as much as
her words, for something more than ordinary.

"It is my duty, and I am sure it is my wish," she continued, "to have
no reserves with you on this subject.  As I am happily quite an altered
creature in _one_ _respect_, it is very fit that you should have the
satisfaction of knowing it.  I do not want to say more than is
necessary--I am too much ashamed of having given way as I have done,
and I dare say you understand me."

"Yes," said Emma, "I hope I do."

"How I could so long a time be fancying myself! . . ." cried Harriet,
warmly.  "It seems like madness!  I can see nothing at all
extraordinary in him now.--I do not care whether I meet him or
not--except that of the two I had rather not see him--and indeed I
would go any distance round to avoid him--but I do not envy his wife in
the least; I neither admire her nor envy her, as I have done:  she is
very charming, I dare say, and all that, but I think her very
ill-tempered and disagreeable--I shall never forget her look the other
night!--However, I assure you, Miss Woodhouse, I wish her no evil.--No,
let them be ever so happy together, it will not give me another
moment's pang:  and to convince you that I have been speaking truth, I
am now going to destroy--what I ought to have destroyed long ago--what
I ought never to have kept-- I know that very well (blushing as she
spoke).--However, now I will destroy it all--and it is my particular
wish to do it in your presence, that you may see how rational I am
grown.  Cannot you guess what this parcel holds?" said she, with a
conscious look.

"Not the least in the world.--Did he ever give you any thing?"

"No--I cannot call them gifts; but they are things that I have valued
very much."

She held the parcel towards her, and Emma read the words _Most_
_precious_ _treasures_ on the top.  Her curiosity was greatly excited.
Harriet unfolded the parcel, and she looked on with impatience.  Within
abundance of silver paper was a pretty little Tunbridge-ware box, which
Harriet opened:  it was well lined with the softest cotton; but,
excepting the cotton, Emma saw only a small piece of court-plaister.

"Now," said Harriet, "you _must_ recollect."

"No, indeed I do not."

"Dear me!  I should not have thought it possible you could forget what
passed in this very room about court-plaister, one of the very last
times we ever met in it!--It was but a very few days before I had my
sore throat--just before Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley came-- I think the
very evening.--Do not you remember his cutting his finger with your new
penknife, and your recommending court-plaister?-- But, as you had none
about you, and knew I had, you desired me to supply him; and so I took
mine out and cut him a piece; but it was a great deal too large, and he
cut it smaller, and kept playing some time with what was left, before
he gave it back to me.  And so then, in my nonsense, I could not help
making a treasure of it--so I put it by never to be used, and looked
at it now and then as a great treat."

"My dearest Harriet!" cried Emma, putting her hand before her face, and
jumping up, "you make me more ashamed of myself than I can bear.
Remember it?  Aye, I remember it all now; all, except your saving this
relic--I knew nothing of that till this moment--but the cutting the
finger, and my recommending court-plaister, and saying I had none about
me!--Oh! my sins, my sins!--And I had plenty all the while in my
pocket!--One of my senseless tricks!--I deserve to be under a continual
blush all the rest of my life.--Well--(sitting down again)--go
on--what else?"

"And had you really some at hand yourself?  I am sure I never suspected
it, you did it so naturally."

"And so you actually put this piece of court-plaister by for his sake!"
said Emma, recovering from her state of shame and feeling divided
between wonder and amusement.  And secretly she added to herself, "Lord
bless me! when should I ever have thought of putting by in cotton a
piece of court-plaister that Frank Churchill had been pulling about!  I
never was equal to this."

"Here," resumed Harriet, turning to her box again, "here is something
still more valuable, I mean that _has_ _been_ more valuable, because
this is what did really once belong to him, which the court-plaister
never did."

Emma was quite eager to see this superior treasure.  It was the end of
an old pencil,--the part without any lead.

"This was really his," said Harriet.--"Do not you remember one
morning?--no, I dare say you do not.  But one morning--I forget exactly
the day--but perhaps it was the Tuesday or Wednesday before _that_
_evening_, he wanted to make a memorandum in his pocket-book; it was
about spruce-beer. Mr. Knightley had been telling him something about
brewing spruce-beer, and he wanted to put it down; but when he took out
his pencil, there was so little lead that he soon cut it all away, and
it would not do, so you lent him another, and this was left upon the
table as good for nothing.  But I kept my eye on it; and, as soon as I
dared, caught it up, and never parted with it again from that moment."

"I do remember it," cried Emma; "I perfectly remember it.-- Talking
about spruce-beer.--Oh! yes--Mr. Knightley and I both saying we liked
it, and Mr. Elton's seeming resolved to learn to like it too.  I
perfectly remember it.--Stop; Mr. Knightley was standing just here, was
not he?  I have an idea he was standing just here."

"Ah!  I do not know.  I cannot recollect.--It is very odd, but I cannot
recollect.--Mr. Elton was sitting here, I remember, much about where I
am now."--

"Well, go on."

"Oh! that's all.  I have nothing more to shew you, or to say--except
that I am now going to throw them both behind the fire, and I wish you
to see me do it."

"My poor dear Harriet! and have you actually found happiness in
treasuring up these things?"

"Yes, simpleton as I was!--but I am quite ashamed of it now, and wish I
could forget as easily as I can burn them.  It was very wrong of me,
you know, to keep any remembrances, after he was married.  I knew it
was--but had not resolution enough to part with them."

"But, Harriet, is it necessary to burn the court-plaister?--I have not
a word to say for the bit of old pencil, but the court-plaister might
be useful."

"I shall be happier to burn it," replied Harriet.  "It has a
disagreeable look to me.  I must get rid of every thing.-- There it
goes, and there is an end, thank Heaven! of Mr. Elton."

"And when," thought Emma, "will there be a beginning of Mr. Churchill?"

She had soon afterwards reason to believe that the beginning was
already made, and could not but hope that the gipsy, though she had
_told_ no fortune, might be proved to have made Harriet's.--About a
fortnight after the alarm, they came to a sufficient explanation, and
quite undesignedly.  Emma was not thinking of it at the moment, which
made the information she received more valuable.  She merely said, in
the course of some trivial chat, "Well, Harriet, whenever you marry I
would advise you to do so and so"--and thought no more of it, till
after a minute's silence she heard Harriet say in a very serious tone,
"I shall never marry."

Emma then looked up, and immediately saw how it was; and after a
moment's debate, as to whether it should pass unnoticed or not, replied,

"Never marry!--This is a new resolution."

"It is one that I shall never change, however."

After another short hesitation, "I hope it does not proceed from--I
hope it is not in compliment to Mr. Elton?"

"Mr. Elton indeed!" cried Harriet indignantly.--"Oh! no"--and Emma
could just catch the words, "so superior to Mr. Elton!"

She then took a longer time for consideration.  Should she proceed no
farther?--should she let it pass, and seem to suspect nothing?--
Perhaps Harriet might think her cold or angry if she did; or perhaps if
she were totally silent, it might only drive Harriet into asking her to
hear too much; and against any thing like such an unreserve as had
been, such an open and frequent discussion of hopes and chances, she
was perfectly resolved.-- She believed it would be wiser for her to say
and know at once, all that she meant to say and know.  Plain dealing
was always best.  She had previously determined how far she would
proceed, on any application of the sort; and it would be safer for
both, to have the judicious law of her own brain laid down with
speed.-- She was decided, and thus spoke--

"Harriet, I will not affect to be in doubt of your meaning.  Your
resolution, or rather your expectation of never marrying, results from
an idea that the person whom you might prefer, would be too greatly
your superior in situation to think of you.  Is not it so?"

"Oh!  Miss Woodhouse, believe me I have not the presumption to
suppose-- Indeed I am not so mad.--But it is a pleasure to me to admire
him at a distance--and to think of his infinite superiority to all the
rest of the world, with the gratitude, wonder, and veneration, which
are so proper, in me especially."

"I am not at all surprized at you, Harriet.  The service he rendered
you was enough to warm your heart."

"Service! oh! it was such an inexpressible obligation!-- The very
recollection of it, and all that I felt at the time--when I saw him
coming--his noble look--and my wretchedness before.  Such a change!  In
one moment such a change!  From perfect misery to perfect happiness!"

"It is very natural.  It is natural, and it is honourable.-- Yes,
honourable, I think, to chuse so well and so gratefully.-- But that it
will be a fortunate preference is more that I can promise.  I do not
advise you to give way to it, Harriet.  I do not by any means engage
for its being returned.  Consider what you are about.  Perhaps it will
be wisest in you to check your feelings while you can: at any rate do
not let them carry you far, unless you are persuaded of his liking you.
Be observant of him.  Let his behaviour be the guide of your
sensations.  I give you this caution now, because I shall never speak
to you again on the subject.  I am determined against all interference.
Henceforward I know nothing of the matter.  Let no name ever pass our
lips.  We were very wrong before; we will be cautious now.--He is your
superior, no doubt, and there do seem objections and obstacles of a
very serious nature; but yet, Harriet, more wonderful things have taken
place, there have been matches of greater disparity.  But take care of
yourself.  I would not have you too sanguine; though, however it may
end, be assured your raising your thoughts to _him_, is a mark of good
taste which I shall always know how to value."

Harriet kissed her hand in silent and submissive gratitude.  Emma was
very decided in thinking such an attachment no bad thing for her
friend.  Its tendency would be to raise and refine her mind--and it
must be saving her from the danger of degradation.



CHAPTER V


In this state of schemes, and hopes, and connivance, June opened upon
Hartfield.  To Highbury in general it brought no material change.  The
Eltons were still talking of a visit from the Sucklings, and of the use
to be made of their barouche-landau; and Jane Fairfax was still at her
grandmother's; and as the return of the Campbells from Ireland was
again delayed, and August, instead of Midsummer, fixed for it, she was
likely to remain there full two months longer, provided at least she
were able to defeat Mrs. Elton's activity in her service, and save
herself from being hurried into a delightful situation against her will.

Mr. Knightley, who, for some reason best known to himself, had
certainly taken an early dislike to Frank Churchill, was only growing
to dislike him more.  He began to suspect him of some double dealing in
his pursuit of Emma.  That Emma was his object appeared indisputable.
Every thing declared it; his own attentions, his father's hints, his
mother-in-law's guarded silence; it was all in unison; words, conduct,
discretion, and indiscretion, told the same story.  But while so many
were devoting him to Emma, and Emma herself making him over to Harriet,
Mr. Knightley began to suspect him of some inclination to trifle with
Jane Fairfax.  He could not understand it; but there were symptoms of
intelligence between them--he thought so at least--symptoms of
admiration on his side, which, having once observed, he could not
persuade himself to think entirely void of meaning, however he might
wish to escape any of Emma's errors of imagination.  _She_ was not
present when the suspicion first arose.  He was dining with the
Randalls family, and Jane, at the Eltons'; and he had seen a look, more
than a single look, at Miss Fairfax, which, from the admirer of Miss
Woodhouse, seemed somewhat out of place.  When he was again in their
company, he could not help remembering what he had seen; nor could he
avoid observations which, unless it were like Cowper and his fire at
twilight,

"Myself creating what I saw,"

brought him yet stronger suspicion of there being a something of
private liking, of private understanding even, between Frank Churchill
and Jane.

He had walked up one day after dinner, as he very often did, to spend
his evening at Hartfield.  Emma and Harriet were going to walk; he
joined them; and, on returning, they fell in with a larger party, who,
like themselves, judged it wisest to take their exercise early, as the
weather threatened rain; Mr. and Mrs. Weston and their son, Miss Bates
and her niece, who had accidentally met.  They all united; and, on
reaching Hartfield gates, Emma, who knew it was exactly the sort of
visiting that would be welcome to her father, pressed them all to go in
and drink tea with him.  The Randalls party agreed to it immediately;
and after a pretty long speech from Miss Bates, which few persons
listened to, she also found it possible to accept dear Miss Woodhouse's
most obliging invitation.

As they were turning into the grounds, Mr. Perry passed by on
horseback.  The gentlemen spoke of his horse.

"By the bye," said Frank Churchill to Mrs. Weston presently, "what
became of Mr. Perry's plan of setting up his carriage?"

Mrs. Weston looked surprized, and said, "I did not know that he ever
had any such plan."

"Nay, I had it from you.  You wrote me word of it three months ago."

"Me! impossible!"

"Indeed you did.  I remember it perfectly.  You mentioned it as what
was certainly to be very soon.  Mrs. Perry had told somebody, and was
extremely happy about it.  It was owing to _her_ persuasion, as she
thought his being out in bad weather did him a great deal of harm.  You
must remember it now?"

"Upon my word I never heard of it till this moment."

"Never! really, never!--Bless me! how could it be?--Then I must have
dreamt it--but I was completely persuaded--Miss Smith, you walk as if
you were tired.  You will not be sorry to find yourself at home."

"What is this?--What is this?" cried Mr. Weston, "about Perry and a
carriage?  Is Perry going to set up his carriage, Frank?  I am glad he
can afford it.  You had it from himself, had you?"

"No, sir," replied his son, laughing, "I seem to have had it from
nobody.--Very odd!--I really was persuaded of Mrs. Weston's having
mentioned it in one of her letters to Enscombe, many weeks ago, with
all these particulars--but as she declares she never heard a syllable
of it before, of course it must have been a dream.  I am a great
dreamer.  I dream of every body at Highbury when I am away--and when I
have gone through my particular friends, then I begin dreaming of Mr.
and Mrs. Perry."

"It is odd though," observed his father, "that you should have had such
a regular connected dream about people whom it was not very likely you
should be thinking of at Enscombe.  Perry's setting up his carriage!
and his wife's persuading him to it, out of care for his health--just
what will happen, I have no doubt, some time or other; only a little
premature.  What an air of probability sometimes runs through a dream!
And at others, what a heap of absurdities it is!  Well, Frank, your
dream certainly shews that Highbury is in your thoughts when you are
absent.  Emma, you are a great dreamer, I think?"

Emma was out of hearing.  She had hurried on before her guests to
prepare her father for their appearance, and was beyond the reach of
Mr. Weston's hint.

"Why, to own the truth," cried Miss Bates, who had been trying in vain
to be heard the last two minutes, "if I must speak on this subject,
there is no denying that Mr. Frank Churchill might have--I do not mean
to say that he did not dream it--I am sure I have sometimes the oddest
dreams in the world--but if I am questioned about it, I must
acknowledge that there was such an idea last spring; for Mrs. Perry
herself mentioned it to my mother, and the Coles knew of it as well as
ourselves--but it was quite a secret, known to nobody else, and only
thought of about three days.  Mrs. Perry was very anxious that he
should have a carriage, and came to my mother in great spirits one
morning because she thought she had prevailed.  Jane, don't you
remember grandmama's telling us of it when we got home?  I forget where
we had been walking to--very likely to Randalls; yes, I think it was
to Randalls.  Mrs. Perry was always particularly fond of my
mother--indeed I do not know who is not--and she had mentioned it to
her in confidence; she had no objection to her telling us, of course,
but it was not to go beyond:  and, from that day to this, I never
mentioned it to a soul that I know of.  At the same time, I will not
positively answer for my having never dropt a hint, because I know I do
sometimes pop out a thing before I am aware.  I am a talker, you know;
I am rather a talker; and now and then I have let a thing escape me
which I should not.  I am not like Jane; I wish I were.  I will answer
for it _she_ never betrayed the least thing in the world.  Where is
she?--Oh! just behind.  Perfectly remember Mrs. Perry's coming.--
Extraordinary dream, indeed!"

They were entering the hall.  Mr. Knightley's eyes had preceded Miss
Bates's in a glance at Jane.  From Frank Churchill's face, where he
thought he saw confusion suppressed or laughed away, he had
involuntarily turned to hers; but she was indeed behind, and too busy
with her shawl.  Mr. Weston had walked in.  The two other gentlemen
waited at the door to let her pass.  Mr. Knightley suspected in Frank
Churchill the determination of catching her eye--he seemed watching
her intently--in vain, however, if it were so-- Jane passed between
them into the hall, and looked at neither.

There was no time for farther remark or explanation.  The dream must be
borne with, and Mr. Knightley must take his seat with the rest round
the large modern circular table which Emma had introduced at Hartfield,
and which none but Emma could have had power to place there and
persuade her father to use, instead of the small-sized Pembroke, on
which two of his daily meals had, for forty years been crowded.  Tea
passed pleasantly, and nobody seemed in a hurry to move.

"Miss Woodhouse," said Frank Churchill, after examining a table behind
him, which he could reach as he sat, "have your nephews taken away
their alphabets--their box of letters?  It used to stand here.  Where
is it?  This is a sort of dull-looking evening, that ought to be
treated rather as winter than summer.  We had great amusement with
those letters one morning.  I want to puzzle you again."

Emma was pleased with the thought; and producing the box, the table was
quickly scattered over with alphabets, which no one seemed so much
disposed to employ as their two selves.  They were rapidly forming
words for each other, or for any body else who would be puzzled.  The
quietness of the game made it particularly eligible for Mr. Woodhouse,
who had often been distressed by the more animated sort, which Mr.
Weston had occasionally introduced, and who now sat happily occupied in
lamenting, with tender melancholy, over the departure of the "poor
little boys," or in fondly pointing out, as he took up any stray letter
near him, how beautifully Emma had written it.

Frank Churchill placed a word before Miss Fairfax.  She gave a slight
glance round the table, and applied herself to it.  Frank was next to
Emma, Jane opposite to them--and Mr. Knightley so placed as to see them
all; and it was his object to see as much as he could, with as little
apparent observation.  The word was discovered, and with a faint smile
pushed away.  If meant to be immediately mixed with the others, and
buried from sight, she should have looked on the table instead of
looking just across, for it was not mixed; and Harriet, eager after
every fresh word, and finding out none, directly took it up, and fell
to work.  She was sitting by Mr. Knightley, and turned to him for help.
The word was _blunder_; and as Harriet exultingly proclaimed it, there
was a blush on Jane's cheek which gave it a meaning not otherwise
ostensible.  Mr. Knightley connected it with the dream; but how it
could all be, was beyond his comprehension.  How the delicacy, the
discretion of his favourite could have been so lain asleep!  He feared
there must be some decided involvement.  Disingenuousness and double
dealing seemed to meet him at every turn.  These letters were but the
vehicle for gallantry and trick.  It was a child's play, chosen to
conceal a deeper game on Frank Churchill's part.

With great indignation did he continue to observe him; with great alarm
and distrust, to observe also his two blinded companions.  He saw a
short word prepared for Emma, and given to her with a look sly and
demure.  He saw that Emma had soon made it out, and found it highly
entertaining, though it was something which she judged it proper to
appear to censure; for she said, "Nonsense! for shame!" He heard Frank
Churchill next say, with a glance towards Jane, "I will give it to
her--shall I?"--and as clearly heard Emma opposing it with eager
laughing warmth.  "No, no, you must not; you shall not, indeed."

It was done however.  This gallant young man, who seemed to love
without feeling, and to recommend himself without complaisance,
directly handed over the word to Miss Fairfax, and with a particular
degree of sedate civility entreated her to study it.  Mr. Knightley's
excessive curiosity to know what this word might be, made him seize
every possible moment for darting his eye towards it, and it was not
long before he saw it to be _Dixon_.  Jane Fairfax's perception seemed
to accompany his; her comprehension was certainly more equal to the
covert meaning, the superior intelligence, of those five letters so
arranged.  She was evidently displeased; looked up, and seeing herself
watched, blushed more deeply than he had ever perceived her, and saying
only, "I did not know that proper names were allowed," pushed away the
letters with even an angry spirit, and looked resolved to be engaged by
no other word that could be offered.  Her face was averted from those
who had made the attack, and turned towards her aunt.

"Aye, very true, my dear," cried the latter, though Jane had not spoken
a word--"I was just going to say the same thing.  It is time for us to
be going indeed.  The evening is closing in, and grandmama will be
looking for us.  My dear sir, you are too obliging.  We really must
wish you good night."

Jane's alertness in moving, proved her as ready as her aunt had
preconceived.  She was immediately up, and wanting to quit the table;
but so many were also moving, that she could not get away; and Mr.
Knightley thought he saw another collection of letters anxiously pushed
towards her, and resolutely swept away by her unexamined.  She was
afterwards looking for her shawl--Frank Churchill was looking also--it
was growing dusk, and the room was in confusion; and how they parted,
Mr. Knightley could not tell.

He remained at Hartfield after all the rest, his thoughts full of what
he had seen; so full, that when the candles came to assist his
observations, he must--yes, he certainly must, as a friend--an anxious
friend--give Emma some hint, ask her some question.  He could not see
her in a situation of such danger, without trying to preserve her.  It
was his duty.

"Pray, Emma," said he, "may I ask in what lay the great amusement, the
poignant sting of the last word given to you and Miss Fairfax?  I saw
the word, and am curious to know how it could be so very entertaining
to the one, and so very distressing to the other."

Emma was extremely confused.  She could not endure to give him the true
explanation; for though her suspicions were by no means removed, she
was really ashamed of having ever imparted them.

"Oh!" she cried in evident embarrassment, "it all meant nothing; a mere
joke among ourselves."

"The joke," he replied gravely, "seemed confined to you and Mr.
Churchill."

He had hoped she would speak again, but she did not.  She would rather
busy herself about any thing than speak.  He sat a little while in
doubt.  A variety of evils crossed his mind.  Interference--fruitless
interference.  Emma's confusion, and the acknowledged intimacy, seemed
to declare her affection engaged.  Yet he would speak.  He owed it to
her, to risk any thing that might be involved in an unwelcome
interference, rather than her welfare; to encounter any thing, rather
than the remembrance of neglect in such a cause.

"My dear Emma," said he at last, with earnest kindness, "do you think
you perfectly understand the degree of acquaintance between the
gentleman and lady we have been speaking of?"

"Between Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss Fairfax?  Oh! yes, perfectly.--
Why do you make a doubt of it?"

"Have you never at any time had reason to think that he admired her, or
that she admired him?"

"Never, never!" she cried with a most open eagerness--"Never, for the
twentieth part of a moment, did such an idea occur to me.  And how
could it possibly come into your head?"

"I have lately imagined that I saw symptoms of attachment between
them--certain expressive looks, which I did not believe meant to be
public."

"Oh! you amuse me excessively.  I am delighted to find that you can
vouchsafe to let your imagination wander--but it will not do--very
sorry to check you in your first essay--but indeed it will not do.
There is no admiration between them, I do assure you; and the
appearances which have caught you, have arisen from some peculiar
circumstances--feelings rather of a totally different nature--it is
impossible exactly to explain:--there is a good deal of nonsense in
it--but the part which is capable of being communicated, which is
sense, is, that they are as far from any attachment or admiration for
one another, as any two beings in the world can be.  That is, I
_presume_ it to be so on her side, and I can _answer_ for its being so
on his.  I will answer for the gentleman's indifference."

She spoke with a confidence which staggered, with a satisfaction which
silenced, Mr. Knightley.  She was in gay spirits, and would have
prolonged the conversation, wanting to hear the particulars of his
suspicions, every look described, and all the wheres and hows of a
circumstance which highly entertained her:  but his gaiety did not meet
hers.  He found he could not be useful, and his feelings were too much
irritated for talking.  That he might not be irritated into an absolute
fever, by the fire which Mr. Woodhouse's tender habits required almost
every evening throughout the year, he soon afterwards took a hasty
leave, and walked home to the coolness and solitude of Donwell Abbey.



CHAPTER VI


After being long fed with hopes of a speedy visit from Mr. and Mrs.
Suckling, the Highbury world were obliged to endure the mortification
of hearing that they could not possibly come till the autumn.  No such
importation of novelties could enrich their intellectual stores at
present.  In the daily interchange of news, they must be again
restricted to the other topics with which for a while the Sucklings'
coming had been united, such as the last accounts of Mrs. Churchill,
whose health seemed every day to supply a different report, and the
situation of Mrs. Weston, whose happiness it was to be hoped might
eventually be as much increased by the arrival of a child, as that of
all her neighbours was by the approach of it.

Mrs. Elton was very much disappointed.  It was the delay of a great
deal of pleasure and parade.  Her introductions and recommendations
must all wait, and every projected party be still only talked of.  So
she thought at first;--but a little consideration convinced her that
every thing need not be put off.  Why should not they explore to Box
Hill though the Sucklings did not come?  They could go there again with
them in the autumn.  It was settled that they should go to Box Hill.
That there was to be such a party had been long generally known:  it
had even given the idea of another.  Emma had never been to Box Hill;
she wished to see what every body found so well worth seeing, and she
and Mr. Weston had agreed to chuse some fine morning and drive thither.
Two or three more of the chosen only were to be admitted to join them,
and it was to be done in a quiet, unpretending, elegant way, infinitely
superior to the bustle and preparation, the regular eating and
drinking, and picnic parade of the Eltons and the Sucklings.

This was so very well understood between them, that Emma could not but
feel some surprise, and a little displeasure, on hearing from Mr.
Weston that he had been proposing to Mrs. Elton, as her brother and
sister had failed her, that the two parties should unite, and go
together; and that as Mrs. Elton had very readily acceded to it, so it
was to be, if she had no objection.  Now, as her objection was nothing
but her very great dislike of Mrs. Elton, of which Mr. Weston must
already be perfectly aware, it was not worth bringing forward
again:--it could not be done without a reproof to him, which would be
giving pain to his wife; and she found herself therefore obliged to
consent to an arrangement which she would have done a great deal to
avoid; an arrangement which would probably expose her even to the
degradation of being said to be of Mrs. Elton's party!  Every feeling
was offended; and the forbearance of her outward submission left a
heavy arrear due of secret severity in her reflections on the
unmanageable goodwill of Mr. Weston's temper.

"I am glad you approve of what I have done," said he very comfortably.
"But I thought you would.  Such schemes as these are nothing without
numbers.  One cannot have too large a party.  A large party secures its
own amusement.  And she is a good-natured woman after all.  One could
not leave her out."

Emma denied none of it aloud, and agreed to none of it in private.

It was now the middle of June, and the weather fine; and Mrs. Elton was
growing impatient to name the day, and settle with Mr. Weston as to
pigeon-pies and cold lamb, when a lame carriage-horse threw every thing
into sad uncertainty.  It might be weeks, it might be only a few days,
before the horse were useable; but no preparations could be ventured
on, and it was all melancholy stagnation.  Mrs. Elton's resources were
inadequate to such an attack.

"Is not this most vexations, Knightley?" she cried.--"And such weather
for exploring!--These delays and disappointments are quite odious.
What are we to do?--The year will wear away at this rate, and nothing
done.  Before this time last year I assure you we had had a delightful
exploring party from Maple Grove to Kings Weston."

"You had better explore to Donwell," replied Mr. Knightley.  "That may
be done without horses.  Come, and eat my strawberries.  They are
ripening fast."

If Mr. Knightley did not begin seriously, he was obliged to proceed so,
for his proposal was caught at with delight; and the "Oh!  I should
like it of all things," was not plainer in words than manner.  Donwell
was famous for its strawberry-beds, which seemed a plea for the
invitation:  but no plea was necessary; cabbage-beds would have been
enough to tempt the lady, who only wanted to be going somewhere.  She
promised him again and again to come--much oftener than he doubted--and
was extremely gratified by such a proof of intimacy, such a
distinguishing compliment as she chose to consider it.

"You may depend upon me," said she.  "I certainly will come.  Name your
day, and I will come.  You will allow me to bring Jane Fairfax?"

"I cannot name a day," said he, "till I have spoken to some others whom
I would wish to meet you."

"Oh! leave all that to me.  Only give me a carte-blanche.--I am Lady
Patroness, you know.  It is my party.  I will bring friends with me."

"I hope you will bring Elton," said he:  "but I will not trouble you to
give any other invitations."

"Oh! now you are looking very sly.  But consider--you need not be
afraid of delegating power to _me_.  I am no young lady on her
preferment.  Married women, you know, may be safely authorised.  It is
my party.  Leave it all to me.  I will invite your guests."

"No,"--he calmly replied,--"there is but one married woman in the world
whom I can ever allow to invite what guests she pleases to Donwell, and
that one is--"

"--Mrs. Weston, I suppose," interrupted Mrs. Elton, rather mortified.

"No--Mrs. Knightley;--and till she is in being, I will manage such
matters myself."

"Ah! you are an odd creature!" she cried, satisfied to have no one
preferred to herself.--"You are a humourist, and may say what you like.
Quite a humourist.  Well, I shall bring Jane with me--Jane and her
aunt.--The rest I leave to you.  I have no objections at all to meeting
the Hartfield family.  Don't scruple.  I know you are attached to them."

"You certainly will meet them if I can prevail; and I shall call on
Miss Bates in my way home."

"That's quite unnecessary; I see Jane every day:--but as you like.  It
is to be a morning scheme, you know, Knightley; quite a simple thing.
I shall wear a large bonnet, and bring one of my little baskets hanging
on my arm.  Here,--probably this basket with pink ribbon.  Nothing can
be more simple, you see.  And Jane will have such another.  There is to
be no form or parade--a sort of gipsy party.  We are to walk about your
gardens, and gather the strawberries ourselves, and sit under
trees;--and whatever else you may like to provide, it is to be all out
of doors--a table spread in the shade, you know.  Every thing as
natural and simple as possible.  Is not that your idea?"

"Not quite.  My idea of the simple and the natural will be to have the
table spread in the dining-room. The nature and the simplicity of
gentlemen and ladies, with their servants and furniture, I think is
best observed by meals within doors.  When you are tired of eating
strawberries in the garden, there shall be cold meat in the house."

"Well--as you please; only don't have a great set out.  And, by the
bye, can I or my housekeeper be of any use to you with our opinion?--
Pray be sincere, Knightley.  If you wish me to talk to Mrs. Hodges, or
to inspect anything--"

"I have not the least wish for it, I thank you."

"Well--but if any difficulties should arise, my housekeeper is
extremely clever."

"I will answer for it, that mine thinks herself full as clever, and
would spurn any body's assistance."

"I wish we had a donkey.  The thing would be for us all to come on
donkeys, Jane, Miss Bates, and me--and my caro sposo walking by.  I
really must talk to him about purchasing a donkey.  In a country life I
conceive it to be a sort of necessary; for, let a woman have ever so
many resources, it is not possible for her to be always shut up at
home;--and very long walks, you know--in summer there is dust, and in
winter there is dirt."

"You will not find either, between Donwell and Highbury.  Donwell Lane
is never dusty, and now it is perfectly dry.  Come on a donkey,
however, if you prefer it.  You can borrow Mrs. Cole's.  I would wish
every thing to be as much to your taste as possible."

"That I am sure you would.  Indeed I do you justice, my good friend.
Under that peculiar sort of dry, blunt manner, I know you have the
warmest heart.  As I tell Mr. E., you are a thorough humourist.-- Yes,
believe me, Knightley, I am fully sensible of your attention to me in
the whole of this scheme.  You have hit upon the very thing to please
me."

Mr. Knightley had another reason for avoiding a table in the shade.  He
wished to persuade Mr. Woodhouse, as well as Emma, to join the party;
and he knew that to have any of them sitting down out of doors to eat
would inevitably make him ill.  Mr. Woodhouse must not, under the
specious pretence of a morning drive, and an hour or two spent at
Donwell, be tempted away to his misery.

He was invited on good faith.  No lurking horrors were to upbraid him
for his easy credulity.  He did consent.  He had not been at Donwell
for two years.  "Some very fine morning, he, and Emma, and Harriet,
could go very well; and he could sit still with Mrs. Weston, while the
dear girls walked about the gardens.  He did not suppose they could be
damp now, in the middle of the day.  He should like to see the old
house again exceedingly, and should be very happy to meet Mr. and Mrs.
Elton, and any other of his neighbours.--He could not see any objection
at all to his, and Emma's, and Harriet's going there some very fine
morning.  He thought it very well done of Mr. Knightley to invite
them--very kind and sensible--much cleverer than dining out.--He was
not fond of dining out."

Mr. Knightley was fortunate in every body's most ready concurrence.
The invitation was everywhere so well received, that it seemed as if,
like Mrs. Elton, they were all taking the scheme as a particular
compliment to themselves.--Emma and Harriet professed very high
expectations of pleasure from it; and Mr. Weston, unasked, promised to
get Frank over to join them, if possible; a proof of approbation and
gratitude which could have been dispensed with.-- Mr. Knightley was
then obliged to say that he should be glad to see him; and Mr. Weston
engaged to lose no time in writing, and spare no arguments to induce
him to come.

In the meanwhile the lame horse recovered so fast, that the party to
Box Hill was again under happy consideration; and at last Donwell was
settled for one day, and Box Hill for the next,--the weather appearing
exactly right.

Under a bright mid-day sun, at almost Midsummer, Mr. Woodhouse was
safely conveyed in his carriage, with one window down, to partake of
this al-fresco party; and in one of the most comfortable rooms in the
Abbey, especially prepared for him by a fire all the morning, he was
happily placed, quite at his ease, ready to talk with pleasure of what
had been achieved, and advise every body to come and sit down, and not
to heat themselves.-- Mrs. Weston, who seemed to have walked there on
purpose to be tired, and sit all the time with him, remained, when all
the others were invited or persuaded out, his patient listener and
sympathiser.

It was so long since Emma had been at the Abbey, that as soon as she
was satisfied of her father's comfort, she was glad to leave him, and
look around her; eager to refresh and correct her memory with more
particular observation, more exact understanding of a house and grounds
which must ever be so interesting to her and all her family.

She felt all the honest pride and complacency which her alliance with
the present and future proprietor could fairly warrant, as she viewed
the respectable size and style of the building, its suitable, becoming,
characteristic situation, low and sheltered--its ample gardens
stretching down to meadows washed by a stream, of which the Abbey, with
all the old neglect of prospect, had scarcely a sight--and its
abundance of timber in rows and avenues, which neither fashion nor
extravagance had rooted up.--The house was larger than Hartfield, and
totally unlike it, covering a good deal of ground, rambling and
irregular, with many comfortable, and one or two handsome rooms.--It
was just what it ought to be, and it looked what it was--and Emma felt
an increasing respect for it, as the residence of a family of such true
gentility, untainted in blood and understanding.--Some faults of temper
John Knightley had; but Isabella had connected herself unexceptionably.
She had given them neither men, nor names, nor places, that could raise
a blush.  These were pleasant feelings, and she walked about and
indulged them till it was necessary to do as the others did, and
collect round the strawberry-beds.--The whole party were assembled,
excepting Frank Churchill, who was expected every moment from Richmond;
and Mrs. Elton, in all her apparatus of happiness, her large bonnet and
her basket, was very ready to lead the way in gathering, accepting, or
talking--strawberries, and only strawberries, could now be thought or
spoken of.--"The best fruit in England--every body's favourite--always
wholesome.--These the finest beds and finest sorts.--Delightful to
gather for one's self--the only way of really enjoying them.--Morning
decidedly the best time--never tired--every sort good--hautboy
infinitely superior--no comparison--the others hardly
eatable--hautboys very scarce--Chili preferred--white wood finest
flavour of all--price of strawberries in London--abundance about
Bristol--Maple Grove--cultivation--beds when to be renewed--gardeners
thinking exactly different--no general rule--gardeners never to be put
out of their way--delicious fruit--only too rich to be eaten much
of--inferior to cherries--currants more refreshing--only objection to
gathering strawberries the stooping--glaring sun--tired to death--could
bear it no longer--must go and sit in the shade."

Such, for half an hour, was the conversation--interrupted only once by
Mrs. Weston, who came out, in her solicitude after her son-in-law, to
inquire if he were come--and she was a little uneasy.-- She had some
fears of his horse.

Seats tolerably in the shade were found; and now Emma was obliged to
overhear what Mrs. Elton and Jane Fairfax were talking of.-- A
situation, a most desirable situation, was in question.  Mrs. Elton had
received notice of it that morning, and was in raptures.  It was not
with Mrs. Suckling, it was not with Mrs. Bragge, but in felicity and
splendour it fell short only of them:  it was with a cousin of Mrs.
Bragge, an acquaintance of Mrs. Suckling, a lady known at Maple Grove.
Delightful, charming, superior, first circles, spheres, lines, ranks,
every thing--and Mrs. Elton was wild to have the offer closed with
immediately.--On her side, all was warmth, energy, and triumph--and she
positively refused to take her friend's negative, though Miss Fairfax
continued to assure her that she would not at present engage in any
thing, repeating the same motives which she had been heard to urge
before.-- Still Mrs. Elton insisted on being authorised to write an
acquiescence by the morrow's post.--How Jane could bear it at all, was
astonishing to Emma.--She did look vexed, she did speak pointedly--and
at last, with a decision of action unusual to her, proposed a
removal.-- "Should not they walk?  Would not Mr. Knightley shew them
the gardens--all the gardens?--She wished to see the whole
extent."--The pertinacity of her friend seemed more than she could bear.

It was hot; and after walking some time over the gardens in a
scattered, dispersed way, scarcely any three together, they insensibly
followed one another to the delicious shade of a broad short avenue of
limes, which stretching beyond the garden at an equal distance from the
river, seemed the finish of the pleasure grounds.-- It led to nothing;
nothing but a view at the end over a low stone wall with high pillars,
which seemed intended, in their erection, to give the appearance of an
approach to the house, which never had been there.  Disputable,
however, as might be the taste of such a termination, it was in itself
a charming walk, and the view which closed it extremely pretty.--The
considerable slope, at nearly the foot of which the Abbey stood,
gradually acquired a steeper form beyond its grounds; and at half a
mile distant was a bank of considerable abruptness and grandeur, well
clothed with wood;--and at the bottom of this bank, favourably placed
and sheltered, rose the Abbey Mill Farm, with meadows in front, and the
river making a close and handsome curve around it.

It was a sweet view--sweet to the eye and the mind.  English verdure,
English culture, English comfort, seen under a sun bright, without
being oppressive.

In this walk Emma and Mr. Weston found all the others assembled; and
towards this view she immediately perceived Mr. Knightley and Harriet
distinct from the rest, quietly leading the way.  Mr. Knightley and
Harriet!--It was an odd tete-a-tete; but she was glad to see it.--There
had been a time when he would have scorned her as a companion, and
turned from her with little ceremony.  Now they seemed in pleasant
conversation.  There had been a time also when Emma would have been
sorry to see Harriet in a spot so favourable for the Abbey Mill Farm;
but now she feared it not.  It might be safely viewed with all its
appendages of prosperity and beauty, its rich pastures, spreading
flocks, orchard in blossom, and light column of smoke ascending.--She
joined them at the wall, and found them more engaged in talking than in
looking around.  He was giving Harriet information as to modes of
agriculture, etc.  and Emma received a smile which seemed to say,
"These are my own concerns.  I have a right to talk on such subjects,
without being suspected of introducing Robert Martin."--She did not
suspect him.  It was too old a story.--Robert Martin had probably
ceased to think of Harriet.--They took a few turns together along the
walk.--The shade was most refreshing, and Emma found it the pleasantest
part of the day.

The next remove was to the house; they must all go in and eat;--and
they were all seated and busy, and still Frank Churchill did not come.
Mrs. Weston looked, and looked in vain.  His father would not own
himself uneasy, and laughed at her fears; but she could not be cured of
wishing that he would part with his black mare.  He had expressed
himself as to coming, with more than common certainty.  "His aunt was
so much better, that he had not a doubt of getting over to them."--Mrs.
Churchill's state, however, as many were ready to remind her, was
liable to such sudden variation as might disappoint her nephew in the
most reasonable dependence--and Mrs. Weston was at last persuaded to
believe, or to say, that it must be by some attack of Mrs. Churchill
that he was prevented coming.-- Emma looked at Harriet while the point
was under consideration; she behaved very well, and betrayed no emotion.

The cold repast was over, and the party were to go out once more to see
what had not yet been seen, the old Abbey fish-ponds; perhaps get as
far as the clover, which was to be begun cutting on the morrow, or, at
any rate, have the pleasure of being hot, and growing cool again.--Mr.
Woodhouse, who had already taken his little round in the highest part
of the gardens, where no damps from the river were imagined even by
him, stirred no more; and his daughter resolved to remain with him,
that Mrs. Weston might be persuaded away by her husband to the exercise
and variety which her spirits seemed to need.

Mr. Knightley had done all in his power for Mr. Woodhouse's
entertainment.  Books of engravings, drawers of medals, cameos, corals,
shells, and every other family collection within his cabinets, had been
prepared for his old friend, to while away the morning; and the
kindness had perfectly answered.  Mr. Woodhouse had been exceedingly
well amused.  Mrs. Weston had been shewing them all to him, and now he
would shew them all to Emma;--fortunate in having no other resemblance
to a child, than in a total want of taste for what he saw, for he was
slow, constant, and methodical.--Before this second looking over was
begun, however, Emma walked into the hall for the sake of a few
moments' free observation of the entrance and ground-plot of the
house--and was hardly there, when Jane Fairfax appeared, coming quickly
in from the garden, and with a look of escape.-- Little expecting to
meet Miss Woodhouse so soon, there was a start at first; but Miss
Woodhouse was the very person she was in quest of.

"Will you be so kind," said she, "when I am missed, as to say that I am
gone home?--I am going this moment.--My aunt is not aware how late it
is, nor how long we have been absent--but I am sure we shall be wanted,
and I am determined to go directly.--I have said nothing about it to
any body.  It would only be giving trouble and distress.  Some are gone
to the ponds, and some to the lime walk.  Till they all come in I shall
not be missed; and when they do, will you have the goodness to say that
I am gone?"

"Certainly, if you wish it;--but you are not going to walk to Highbury
alone?"

"Yes--what should hurt me?--I walk fast.  I shall be at home in twenty
minutes."

"But it is too far, indeed it is, to be walking quite alone.  Let my
father's servant go with you.--Let me order the carriage.  It can be
round in five minutes."

"Thank you, thank you--but on no account.--I would rather walk.-- And
for _me_ to be afraid of walking alone!--I, who may so soon have to
guard others!"

She spoke with great agitation; and Emma very feelingly replied, "That
can be no reason for your being exposed to danger now.  I must order
the carriage.  The heat even would be danger.--You are fatigued
already."

"I am,"--she answered--"I am fatigued; but it is not the sort of
fatigue--quick walking will refresh me.--Miss Woodhouse, we all know at
times what it is to be wearied in spirits.  Mine, I confess, are
exhausted.  The greatest kindness you can shew me, will be to let me
have my own way, and only say that I am gone when it is necessary."

Emma had not another word to oppose.  She saw it all; and entering into
her feelings, promoted her quitting the house immediately, and watched
her safely off with the zeal of a friend.  Her parting look was
grateful--and her parting words, "Oh!  Miss Woodhouse, the comfort of
being sometimes alone!"--seemed to burst from an overcharged heart, and
to describe somewhat of the continual endurance to be practised by her,
even towards some of those who loved her best.

"Such a home, indeed! such an aunt!" said Emma, as she turned back into
the hall again.  "I do pity you.  And the more sensibility you betray
of their just horrors, the more I shall like you."

Jane had not been gone a quarter of an hour, and they had only
accomplished some views of St. Mark's Place, Venice, when Frank
Churchill entered the room.  Emma had not been thinking of him, she had
forgotten to think of him--but she was very glad to see him.  Mrs.
Weston would be at ease.  The black mare was blameless; _they_ were
right who had named Mrs. Churchill as the cause.  He had been detained
by a temporary increase of illness in her; a nervous seizure, which had
lasted some hours--and he had quite given up every thought of coming,
till very late;--and had he known how hot a ride he should have, and
how late, with all his hurry, he must be, he believed he should not
have come at all.  The heat was excessive; he had never suffered any
thing like it--almost wished he had staid at home--nothing killed him
like heat--he could bear any degree of cold, etc., but heat was
intolerable--and he sat down, at the greatest possible distance from
the slight remains of Mr. Woodhouse's fire, looking very deplorable.

"You will soon be cooler, if you sit still," said Emma.

"As soon as I am cooler I shall go back again.  I could very ill be
spared--but such a point had been made of my coming!  You will all be
going soon I suppose; the whole party breaking up.  I met _one_ as I
came--Madness in such weather!--absolute madness!"

Emma listened, and looked, and soon perceived that Frank Churchill's
state might be best defined by the expressive phrase of being out of
humour.  Some people were always cross when they were hot.  Such might
be his constitution; and as she knew that eating and drinking were
often the cure of such incidental complaints, she recommended his
taking some refreshment; he would find abundance of every thing in the
dining-room--and she humanely pointed out the door.

"No--he should not eat.  He was not hungry; it would only make him
hotter."  In two minutes, however, he relented in his own favour; and
muttering something about spruce-beer, walked off.  Emma returned all
her attention to her father, saying in secret--

"I am glad I have done being in love with him.  I should not like a man
who is so soon discomposed by a hot morning.  Harriet's sweet easy
temper will not mind it."

He was gone long enough to have had a very comfortable meal, and came
back all the better--grown quite cool--and, with good manners, like
himself--able to draw a chair close to them, take an interest in their
employment; and regret, in a reasonable way, that he should be so late.
He was not in his best spirits, but seemed trying to improve them; and,
at last, made himself talk nonsense very agreeably.  They were looking
over views in Swisserland.

"As soon as my aunt gets well, I shall go abroad," said he.  "I shall
never be easy till I have seen some of these places.  You will have my
sketches, some time or other, to look at--or my tour to read--or my
poem.  I shall do something to expose myself."

"That may be--but not by sketches in Swisserland.  You will never go to
Swisserland.  Your uncle and aunt will never allow you to leave
England."

"They may be induced to go too.  A warm climate may be prescribed for
her.  I have more than half an expectation of our all going abroad.  I
assure you I have.  I feel a strong persuasion, this morning, that I
shall soon be abroad.  I ought to travel.  I am tired of doing nothing.
I want a change.  I am serious, Miss Woodhouse, whatever your
penetrating eyes may fancy--I am sick of England-- and would leave it
to-morrow, if I could."

"You are sick of prosperity and indulgence.  Cannot you invent a few
hardships for yourself, and be contented to stay?"

"_I_ sick of prosperity and indulgence!  You are quite mistaken.  I do
not look upon myself as either prosperous or indulged.  I am thwarted
in every thing material.  I do not consider myself at all a fortunate
person."

"You are not quite so miserable, though, as when you first came.  Go
and eat and drink a little more, and you will do very well.  Another
slice of cold meat, another draught of Madeira and water, will make you
nearly on a par with the rest of us."

"No--I shall not stir.  I shall sit by you.  You are my best cure."

"We are going to Box Hill to-morrow;--you will join us.  It is not
Swisserland, but it will be something for a young man so much in want
of a change.  You will stay, and go with us?"

"No, certainly not; I shall go home in the cool of the evening."

"But you may come again in the cool of to-morrow morning."

"No--It will not be worth while.  If I come, I shall be cross."

"Then pray stay at Richmond."

"But if I do, I shall be crosser still.  I can never bear to think of
you all there without me."

"These are difficulties which you must settle for yourself.  Chuse your
own degree of crossness.  I shall press you no more."

The rest of the party were now returning, and all were soon collected.
With some there was great joy at the sight of Frank Churchill; others
took it very composedly; but there was a very general distress and
disturbance on Miss Fairfax's disappearance being explained.  That it
was time for every body to go, concluded the subject; and with a short
final arrangement for the next day's scheme, they parted.  Frank
Churchill's little inclination to exclude himself increased so much,
that his last words to Emma were,

"Well;--if _you_ wish me to stay and join the party, I will."

She smiled her acceptance; and nothing less than a summons from
Richmond was to take him back before the following evening.



CHAPTER VII


They had a very fine day for Box Hill; and all the other outward
circumstances of arrangement, accommodation, and punctuality, were in
favour of a pleasant party.  Mr. Weston directed the whole, officiating
safely between Hartfield and the Vicarage, and every body was in good
time.  Emma and Harriet went together; Miss Bates and her niece, with
the Eltons; the gentlemen on horseback.  Mrs. Weston remained with Mr.
Woodhouse.  Nothing was wanting but to be happy when they got there.
Seven miles were travelled in expectation of enjoyment, and every body
had a burst of admiration on first arriving; but in the general amount
of the day there was deficiency.  There was a languor, a want of
spirits, a want of union, which could not be got over.  They separated
too much into parties.  The Eltons walked together; Mr. Knightley took
charge of Miss Bates and Jane; and Emma and Harriet belonged to Frank
Churchill.  And Mr. Weston tried, in vain, to make them harmonise
better.  It seemed at first an accidental division, but it never
materially varied.  Mr. and Mrs. Elton, indeed, shewed no unwillingness
to mix, and be as agreeable as they could; but during the two whole
hours that were spent on the hill, there seemed a principle of
separation, between the other parties, too strong for any fine
prospects, or any cold collation, or any cheerful Mr. Weston, to remove.

At first it was downright dulness to Emma.  She had never seen Frank
Churchill so silent and stupid.  He said nothing worth hearing--looked
without seeing--admired without intelligence--listened without knowing
what she said.  While he was so dull, it was no wonder that Harriet
should be dull likewise; and they were both insufferable.

When they all sat down it was better; to her taste a great deal better,
for Frank Churchill grew talkative and gay, making her his first
object.  Every distinguishing attention that could be paid, was paid to
her.  To amuse her, and be agreeable in her eyes, seemed all that he
cared for--and Emma, glad to be enlivened, not sorry to be flattered,
was gay and easy too, and gave him all the friendly encouragement, the
admission to be gallant, which she had ever given in the first and most
animating period of their acquaintance; but which now, in her own
estimation, meant nothing, though in the judgment of most people
looking on it must have had such an appearance as no English word but
flirtation could very well describe.  "Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss
Woodhouse flirted together excessively."  They were laying themselves
open to that very phrase--and to having it sent off in a letter to
Maple Grove by one lady, to Ireland by another.  Not that Emma was gay
and thoughtless from any real felicity; it was rather because she felt
less happy than she had expected.  She laughed because she was
disappointed; and though she liked him for his attentions, and thought
them all, whether in friendship, admiration, or playfulness, extremely
judicious, they were not winning back her heart.  She still intended
him for her friend.

"How much I am obliged to you," said he, "for telling me to come
to-day!-- If it had not been for you, I should certainly have lost all
the happiness of this party.  I had quite determined to go away again."

"Yes, you were very cross; and I do not know what about, except that
you were too late for the best strawberries.  I was a kinder friend
than you deserved.  But you were humble.  You begged hard to be
commanded to come."

"Don't say I was cross.  I was fatigued.  The heat overcame me."

"It is hotter to-day."

"Not to my feelings.  I am perfectly comfortable to-day."

"You are comfortable because you are under command."

"Your command?--Yes."

"Perhaps I intended you to say so, but I meant self-command. You had,
somehow or other, broken bounds yesterday, and run away from your own
management; but to-day you are got back again--and as I cannot be
always with you, it is best to believe your temper under your own
command rather than mine."

"It comes to the same thing.  I can have no self-command without a
motive.  You order me, whether you speak or not.  And you can be always
with me.  You are always with me."

"Dating from three o'clock yesterday.  My perpetual influence could not
begin earlier, or you would not have been so much out of humour before."

"Three o'clock yesterday!  That is your date.  I thought I had seen you
first in February."

"Your gallantry is really unanswerable.  But (lowering her voice)--
nobody speaks except ourselves, and it is rather too much to be talking
nonsense for the entertainment of seven silent people."

"I say nothing of which I am ashamed," replied he, with lively
impudence.  "I saw you first in February.  Let every body on the Hill
hear me if they can.  Let my accents swell to Mickleham on one side,
and Dorking on the other.  I saw you first in February."  And then
whispering-- "Our companions are excessively stupid.  What shall we do
to rouse them?  Any nonsense will serve.  They _shall_ talk.  Ladies
and gentlemen, I am ordered by Miss Woodhouse (who, wherever she is,
presides) to say, that she desires to know what you are all thinking
of?"

Some laughed, and answered good-humouredly. Miss Bates said a great
deal; Mrs. Elton swelled at the idea of Miss Woodhouse's presiding; Mr.
Knightley's answer was the most distinct.

"Is Miss Woodhouse sure that she would like to hear what we are all
thinking of?"

"Oh! no, no"--cried Emma, laughing as carelessly as she could-- "Upon
no account in the world.  It is the very last thing I would stand the
brunt of just now.  Let me hear any thing rather than what you are all
thinking of.  I will not say quite all.  There are one or two, perhaps,
(glancing at Mr. Weston and Harriet,) whose thoughts I might not be
afraid of knowing."

"It is a sort of thing," cried Mrs. Elton emphatically, "which _I_
should not have thought myself privileged to inquire into.  Though,
perhaps, as the _Chaperon_ of the party-- _I_ never was in any
circle--exploring parties--young ladies--married women--"

Her mutterings were chiefly to her husband; and he murmured, in reply,

"Very true, my love, very true.  Exactly so, indeed--quite unheard of--
but some ladies say any thing.  Better pass it off as a joke.  Every
body knows what is due to _you_."

"It will not do," whispered Frank to Emma; "they are most of them
affronted.  I will attack them with more address.  Ladies and
gentlemen--I am ordered by Miss Woodhouse to say, that she waives her
right of knowing exactly what you may all be thinking of, and only
requires something very entertaining from each of you, in a general
way.  Here are seven of you, besides myself, (who, she is pleased to
say, am very entertaining already,) and she only demands from each of
you either one thing very clever, be it prose or verse, original or
repeated--or two things moderately clever--or three things very dull
indeed, and she engages to laugh heartily at them all."

"Oh! very well," exclaimed Miss Bates, "then I need not be uneasy.
'Three things very dull indeed.'  That will just do for me, you know.
I shall be sure to say three dull things as soon as ever I open my
mouth, shan't I? (looking round with the most good-humoured dependence
on every body's assent)--Do not you all think I shall?"

Emma could not resist.

"Ah! ma'am, but there may be a difficulty.  Pardon me--but you will be
limited as to number--only three at once."

Miss Bates, deceived by the mock ceremony of her manner, did not
immediately catch her meaning; but, when it burst on her, it could not
anger, though a slight blush shewed that it could pain her.

"Ah!--well--to be sure.  Yes, I see what she means, (turning to Mr.
Knightley,) and I will try to hold my tongue.  I must make myself very
disagreeable, or she would not have said such a thing to an old friend."

"I like your plan," cried Mr. Weston.  "Agreed, agreed.  I will do my
best.  I am making a conundrum.  How will a conundrum reckon?"

"Low, I am afraid, sir, very low," answered his son;--"but we shall be
indulgent--especially to any one who leads the way."

"No, no," said Emma, "it will not reckon low.  A conundrum of Mr.
Weston's shall clear him and his next neighbour.  Come, sir, pray let
me hear it."

"I doubt its being very clever myself," said Mr. Weston.  "It is too
much a matter of fact, but here it is.--What two letters of the
alphabet are there, that express perfection?"

"What two letters!--express perfection!  I am sure I do not know."

"Ah! you will never guess.  You, (to Emma), I am certain, will never
guess.--I will tell you.--M. and A.--Em-ma.--Do you understand?"

Understanding and gratification came together.  It might be a very
indifferent piece of wit, but Emma found a great deal to laugh at and
enjoy in it--and so did Frank and Harriet.--It did not seem to touch
the rest of the party equally; some looked very stupid about it, and
Mr. Knightley gravely said,

"This explains the sort of clever thing that is wanted, and Mr. Weston
has done very well for himself; but he must have knocked up every body
else.  _Perfection_ should not have come quite so soon."

"Oh! for myself, I protest I must be excused," said Mrs. Elton; "_I_
really cannot attempt--I am not at all fond of the sort of thing.  I
had an acrostic once sent to me upon my own name, which I was not at
all pleased with.  I knew who it came from.  An abominable puppy!-- You
know who I mean (nodding to her husband). These kind of things are very
well at Christmas, when one is sitting round the fire; but quite out of
place, in my opinion, when one is exploring about the country in
summer.  Miss Woodhouse must excuse me.  I am not one of those who have
witty things at every body's service.  I do not pretend to be a wit.  I
have a great deal of vivacity in my own way, but I really must be
allowed to judge when to speak and when to hold my tongue.  Pass us, if
you please, Mr. Churchill.  Pass Mr. E., Knightley, Jane, and myself.
We have nothing clever to say--not one of us.

"Yes, yes, pray pass _me_," added her husband, with a sort of sneering
consciousness; "_I_ have nothing to say that can entertain Miss
Woodhouse, or any other young lady.  An old married man--quite good
for nothing.  Shall we walk, Augusta?"

"With all my heart.  I am really tired of exploring so long on one
spot.  Come, Jane, take my other arm."

Jane declined it, however, and the husband and wife walked off.  "Happy
couple!" said Frank Churchill, as soon as they were out of
hearing:--"How well they suit one another!--Very lucky--marrying as
they did, upon an acquaintance formed only in a public place!--They
only knew each other, I think, a few weeks in Bath!  Peculiarly
lucky!--for as to any real knowledge of a person's disposition that
Bath, or any public place, can give--it is all nothing; there can be no
knowledge.  It is only by seeing women in their own homes, among their
own set, just as they always are, that you can form any just judgment.
Short of that, it is all guess and luck--and will generally be
ill-luck. How many a man has committed himself on a short acquaintance,
and rued it all the rest of his life!"

Miss Fairfax, who had seldom spoken before, except among her own
confederates, spoke now.

"Such things do occur, undoubtedly."--She was stopped by a cough.
Frank Churchill turned towards her to listen.

"You were speaking," said he, gravely.  She recovered her voice.

"I was only going to observe, that though such unfortunate
circumstances do sometimes occur both to men and women, I cannot
imagine them to be very frequent.  A hasty and imprudent attachment may
arise--but there is generally time to recover from it afterwards.  I
would be understood to mean, that it can be only weak, irresolute
characters, (whose happiness must be always at the mercy of chance,)
who will suffer an unfortunate acquaintance to be an inconvenience, an
oppression for ever."

He made no answer; merely looked, and bowed in submission; and soon
afterwards said, in a lively tone,

"Well, I have so little confidence in my own judgment, that whenever I
marry, I hope some body will chuse my wife for me.  Will you?  (turning
to Emma.) Will you chuse a wife for me?--I am sure I should like any
body fixed on by you.  You provide for the family, you know, (with a
smile at his father). Find some body for me.  I am in no hurry.  Adopt
her, educate her."

"And make her like myself."

"By all means, if you can."

"Very well.  I undertake the commission.  You shall have a charming
wife."

"She must be very lively, and have hazle eyes.  I care for nothing
else.  I shall go abroad for a couple of years--and when I return, I
shall come to you for my wife.  Remember."

Emma was in no danger of forgetting.  It was a commission to touch
every favourite feeling.  Would not Harriet be the very creature
described?  Hazle eyes excepted, two years more might make her all that
he wished.  He might even have Harriet in his thoughts at the moment;
who could say?  Referring the education to her seemed to imply it.

"Now, ma'am," said Jane to her aunt, "shall we join Mrs. Elton?"

"If you please, my dear.  With all my heart.  I am quite ready.  I was
ready to have gone with her, but this will do just as well.  We shall
soon overtake her.  There she is--no, that's somebody else.  That's one
of the ladies in the Irish car party, not at all like her.-- Well, I
declare--"

They walked off, followed in half a minute by Mr. Knightley.  Mr.
Weston, his son, Emma, and Harriet, only remained; and the young man's
spirits now rose to a pitch almost unpleasant.  Even Emma grew tired at
last of flattery and merriment, and wished herself rather walking
quietly about with any of the others, or sitting almost alone, and
quite unattended to, in tranquil observation of the beautiful views
beneath her.  The appearance of the servants looking out for them to
give notice of the carriages was a joyful sight; and even the bustle of
collecting and preparing to depart, and the solicitude of Mrs. Elton to
have _her_ carriage first, were gladly endured, in the prospect of the
quiet drive home which was to close the very questionable enjoyments of
this day of pleasure.  Such another scheme, composed of so many
ill-assorted people, she hoped never to be betrayed into again.

While waiting for the carriage, she found Mr. Knightley by her side.
He looked around, as if to see that no one were near, and then said,

"Emma, I must once more speak to you as I have been used to do: a
privilege rather endured than allowed, perhaps, but I must still use
it.  I cannot see you acting wrong, without a remonstrance.  How could
you be so unfeeling to Miss Bates?  How could you be so insolent in
your wit to a woman of her character, age, and situation?-- Emma, I had
not thought it possible."

Emma recollected, blushed, was sorry, but tried to laugh it off.

"Nay, how could I help saying what I did?--Nobody could have helped it.
It was not so very bad.  I dare say she did not understand me."

"I assure you she did.  She felt your full meaning.  She has talked of
it since.  I wish you could have heard how she talked of it--with what
candour and generosity.  I wish you could have heard her honouring your
forbearance, in being able to pay her such attentions, as she was for
ever receiving from yourself and your father, when her society must be
so irksome."

"Oh!" cried Emma, "I know there is not a better creature in the world:
but you must allow, that what is good and what is ridiculous are most
unfortunately blended in her."

"They are blended," said he, "I acknowledge; and, were she prosperous,
I could allow much for the occasional prevalence of the ridiculous over
the good.  Were she a woman of fortune, I would leave every harmless
absurdity to take its chance, I would not quarrel with you for any
liberties of manner.  Were she your equal in situation--but, Emma,
consider how far this is from being the case.  She is poor; she has
sunk from the comforts she was born to; and, if she live to old age,
must probably sink more.  Her situation should secure your compassion.
It was badly done, indeed!  You, whom she had known from an infant,
whom she had seen grow up from a period when her notice was an honour,
to have you now, in thoughtless spirits, and the pride of the moment,
laugh at her, humble her--and before her niece, too--and before others,
many of whom (certainly _some_,) would be entirely guided by _your_
treatment of her.--This is not pleasant to you, Emma--and it is very
far from pleasant to me; but I must, I will,--I will tell you truths
while I can; satisfied with proving myself your friend by very faithful
counsel, and trusting that you will some time or other do me greater
justice than you can do now."

While they talked, they were advancing towards the carriage; it was
ready; and, before she could speak again, he had handed her in.  He had
misinterpreted the feelings which had kept her face averted, and her
tongue motionless.  They were combined only of anger against herself,
mortification, and deep concern.  She had not been able to speak; and,
on entering the carriage, sunk back for a moment overcome--then
reproaching herself for having taken no leave, making no
acknowledgment, parting in apparent sullenness, she looked out with
voice and hand eager to shew a difference; but it was just too late.
He had turned away, and the horses were in motion.  She continued to
look back, but in vain; and soon, with what appeared unusual speed,
they were half way down the hill, and every thing left far behind.  She
was vexed beyond what could have been expressed--almost beyond what she
could conceal.  Never had she felt so agitated, mortified, grieved, at
any circumstance in her life.  She was most forcibly struck.  The truth
of this representation there was no denying.  She felt it at her heart.
How could she have been so brutal, so cruel to Miss Bates!  How could
she have exposed herself to such ill opinion in any one she valued!
And how suffer him to leave her without saying one word of gratitude,
of concurrence, of common kindness!

Time did not compose her.  As she reflected more, she seemed but to
feel it more.  She never had been so depressed.  Happily it was not
necessary to speak.  There was only Harriet, who seemed not in spirits
herself, fagged, and very willing to be silent; and Emma felt the tears
running down her cheeks almost all the way home, without being at any
trouble to check them, extraordinary as they were.



CHAPTER VIII


The wretchedness of a scheme to Box Hill was in Emma's thoughts all the
evening.  How it might be considered by the rest of the party, she
could not tell.  They, in their different homes, and their different
ways, might be looking back on it with pleasure; but in her view it was
a morning more completely misspent, more totally bare of rational
satisfaction at the time, and more to be abhorred in recollection, than
any she had ever passed.  A whole evening of back-gammon with her
father, was felicity to it.  _There_, indeed, lay real pleasure, for
there she was giving up the sweetest hours of the twenty-four to his
comfort; and feeling that, unmerited as might be the degree of his fond
affection and confiding esteem, she could not, in her general conduct,
be open to any severe reproach.  As a daughter, she hoped she was not
without a heart.  She hoped no one could have said to her, "How could
you be so unfeeling to your father?-- I must, I will tell you truths
while I can."  Miss Bates should never again--no, never!  If attention,
in future, could do away the past, she might hope to be forgiven.  She
had been often remiss, her conscience told her so; remiss, perhaps,
more in thought than fact; scornful, ungracious.  But it should be so
no more.  In the warmth of true contrition, she would call upon her the
very next morning, and it should be the beginning, on her side, of a
regular, equal, kindly intercourse.

She was just as determined when the morrow came, and went early, that
nothing might prevent her.  It was not unlikely, she thought, that she
might see Mr. Knightley in her way; or, perhaps, he might come in while
she were paying her visit.  She had no objection.  She would not be
ashamed of the appearance of the penitence, so justly and truly hers.
Her eyes were towards Donwell as she walked, but she saw him not.

"The ladies were all at home."  She had never rejoiced at the sound
before, nor ever before entered the passage, nor walked up the stairs,
with any wish of giving pleasure, but in conferring obligation, or of
deriving it, except in subsequent ridicule.

There was a bustle on her approach; a good deal of moving and talking.
She heard Miss Bates's voice, something was to be done in a hurry; the
maid looked frightened and awkward; hoped she would be pleased to wait
a moment, and then ushered her in too soon.  The aunt and niece seemed
both escaping into the adjoining room.  Jane she had a distinct glimpse
of, looking extremely ill; and, before the door had shut them out, she
heard Miss Bates saying, "Well, my dear, I shall _say_ you are laid
down upon the bed, and I am sure you are ill enough."

Poor old Mrs. Bates, civil and humble as usual, looked as if she did
not quite understand what was going on.

"I am afraid Jane is not very well," said she, "but I do not know; they
_tell_ me she is well.  I dare say my daughter will be here presently,
Miss Woodhouse.  I hope you find a chair.  I wish Hetty had not gone.
I am very little able--Have you a chair, ma'am? Do you sit where you
like?  I am sure she will be here presently."

Emma seriously hoped she would.  She had a moment's fear of Miss Bates
keeping away from her.  But Miss Bates soon came--"Very happy and
obliged"--but Emma's conscience told her that there was not the same
cheerful volubility as before--less ease of look and manner.  A very
friendly inquiry after Miss Fairfax, she hoped, might lead the way to a
return of old feelings.  The touch seemed immediate.

"Ah!  Miss Woodhouse, how kind you are!--I suppose you have heard--and
are come to give us joy.  This does not seem much like joy, indeed, in
me--(twinkling away a tear or two)--but it will be very trying for us
to part with her, after having had her so long, and she has a dreadful
headache just now, writing all the morning:--such long letters, you
know, to be written to Colonel Campbell, and Mrs. Dixon.  'My dear,'
said I, 'you will blind yourself'--for tears were in her eyes
perpetually.  One cannot wonder, one cannot wonder.  It is a great
change; and though she is amazingly fortunate--such a situation, I
suppose, as no young woman before ever met with on first going out--do
not think us ungrateful, Miss Woodhouse, for such surprising good
fortune--(again dispersing her tears)--but, poor dear soul! if you were
to see what a headache she has.  When one is in great pain, you know
one cannot feel any blessing quite as it may deserve.  She is as low as
possible.  To look at her, nobody would think how delighted and happy
she is to have secured such a situation.  You will excuse her not
coming to you--she is not able--she is gone into her own room--I want
her to lie down upon the bed.  'My dear,' said I, 'I shall say you are
laid down upon the bed:'  but, however, she is not; she is walking
about the room.  But, now that she has written her letters, she says
she shall soon be well.  She will be extremely sorry to miss seeing
you, Miss Woodhouse, but your kindness will excuse her.  You were kept
waiting at the door--I was quite ashamed--but somehow there was a
little bustle--for it so happened that we had not heard the knock, and
till you were on the stairs, we did not know any body was coming.  'It
is only Mrs. Cole,' said I, 'depend upon it.  Nobody else would come so
early.'  'Well,' said she, 'it must be borne some time or other, and it
may as well be now.' But then Patty came in, and said it was you.
'Oh!' said I, 'it is Miss Woodhouse:  I am sure you will like to see
her.'-- 'I can see nobody,' said she; and up she got, and would go
away; and that was what made us keep you waiting--and extremely sorry
and ashamed we were.  'If you must go, my dear,' said I, 'you must, and
I will say you are laid down upon the bed.'"

Emma was most sincerely interested.  Her heart had been long growing
kinder towards Jane; and this picture of her present sufferings acted
as a cure of every former ungenerous suspicion, and left her nothing
but pity; and the remembrance of the less just and less gentle
sensations of the past, obliged her to admit that Jane might very
naturally resolve on seeing Mrs. Cole or any other steady friend, when
she might not bear to see herself.  She spoke as she felt, with earnest
regret and solicitude--sincerely wishing that the circumstances which
she collected from Miss Bates to be now actually determined on, might
be as much for Miss Fairfax's advantage and comfort as possible.  "It
must be a severe trial to them all.  She had understood it was to be
delayed till Colonel Campbell's return."

"So very kind!" replied Miss Bates.  "But you are always kind."

There was no bearing such an "always;" and to break through her
dreadful gratitude, Emma made the direct inquiry of--

"Where--may I ask?--is Miss Fairfax going?"

"To a Mrs. Smallridge--charming woman--most superior--to have the
charge of her three little girls--delightful children.  Impossible that
any situation could be more replete with comfort; if we except,
perhaps, Mrs. Suckling's own family, and Mrs. Bragge's; but Mrs.
Smallridge is intimate with both, and in the very same
neighbourhood:--lives only four miles from Maple Grove.  Jane will be
only four miles from Maple Grove."

"Mrs. Elton, I suppose, has been the person to whom Miss Fairfax owes--"

"Yes, our good Mrs. Elton.  The most indefatigable, true friend.  She
would not take a denial.  She would not let Jane say, 'No;' for when
Jane first heard of it, (it was the day before yesterday, the very
morning we were at Donwell,) when Jane first heard of it, she was quite
decided against accepting the offer, and for the reasons you mention;
exactly as you say, she had made up her mind to close with nothing till
Colonel Campbell's return, and nothing should induce her to enter into
any engagement at present--and so she told Mrs. Elton over and over
again--and I am sure I had no more idea that she would change her
mind!--but that good Mrs. Elton, whose judgment never fails her, saw
farther than I did.  It is not every body that would have stood out in
such a kind way as she did, and refuse to take Jane's answer; but she
positively declared she would _not_ write any such denial yesterday, as
Jane wished her; she would wait--and, sure enough, yesterday evening it
was all settled that Jane should go.  Quite a surprize to me!  I had
not the least idea!--Jane took Mrs. Elton aside, and told her at once,
that upon thinking over the advantages of Mrs. Smallridge's situation,
she had come to the resolution of accepting it.--I did not know a word
of it till it was all settled."

"You spent the evening with Mrs. Elton?"

"Yes, all of us; Mrs. Elton would have us come.  It was settled so,
upon the hill, while we were walking about with Mr. Knightley.  'You
_must_ _all_ spend your evening with us,' said she--'I positively must
have you _all_ come.'"

"Mr. Knightley was there too, was he?"

"No, not Mr. Knightley; he declined it from the first; and though I
thought he would come, because Mrs. Elton declared she would not let
him off, he did not;--but my mother, and Jane, and I, were all there,
and a very agreeable evening we had.  Such kind friends, you know, Miss
Woodhouse, one must always find agreeable, though every body seemed
rather fagged after the morning's party.  Even pleasure, you know, is
fatiguing--and I cannot say that any of them seemed very much to have
enjoyed it.  However, _I_ shall always think it a very pleasant party,
and feel extremely obliged to the kind friends who included me in it."

"Miss Fairfax, I suppose, though you were not aware of it, had been
making up her mind the whole day?"

"I dare say she had."

"Whenever the time may come, it must be unwelcome to her and all her
friends--but I hope her engagement will have every alleviation that is
possible--I mean, as to the character and manners of the family."

"Thank you, dear Miss Woodhouse.  Yes, indeed, there is every thing in
the world that can make her happy in it.  Except the Sucklings and
Bragges, there is not such another nursery establishment, so liberal
and elegant, in all Mrs. Elton's acquaintance.  Mrs. Smallridge, a most
delightful woman!--A style of living almost equal to Maple Grove--and
as to the children, except the little Sucklings and little Bragges,
there are not such elegant sweet children anywhere.  Jane will be
treated with such regard and kindness!-- It will be nothing but
pleasure, a life of pleasure.--And her salary!-- I really cannot
venture to name her salary to you, Miss Woodhouse.  Even you, used as
you are to great sums, would hardly believe that so much could be given
to a young person like Jane."

"Ah! madam," cried Emma, "if other children are at all like what I
remember to have been myself, I should think five times the amount of
what I have ever yet heard named as a salary on such occasions, dearly
earned."

"You are so noble in your ideas!"

"And when is Miss Fairfax to leave you?"

"Very soon, very soon, indeed; that's the worst of it.  Within a
fortnight.  Mrs. Smallridge is in a great hurry.  My poor mother does
not know how to bear it.  So then, I try to put it out of her thoughts,
and say, Come ma'am, do not let us think about it any more."

"Her friends must all be sorry to lose her; and will not Colonel and
Mrs. Campbell be sorry to find that she has engaged herself before
their return?"

"Yes; Jane says she is sure they will; but yet, this is such a
situation as she cannot feel herself justified in declining.  I was so
astonished when she first told me what she had been saying to Mrs.
Elton, and when Mrs. Elton at the same moment came congratulating me
upon it!  It was before tea--stay--no, it could not be before tea,
because we were just going to cards--and yet it was before tea, because
I remember thinking--Oh! no, now I recollect, now I have it; something
happened before tea, but not that.  Mr. Elton was called out of the
room before tea, old John Abdy's son wanted to speak with him.  Poor
old John, I have a great regard for him; he was clerk to my poor father
twenty-seven years; and now, poor old man, he is bed-ridden, and very
poorly with the rheumatic gout in his joints-- I must go and see him
to-day; and so will Jane, I am sure, if she gets out at all.  And poor
John's son came to talk to Mr. Elton about relief from the parish; he
is very well to do himself, you know, being head man at the Crown,
ostler, and every thing of that sort, but still he cannot keep his
father without some help; and so, when Mr. Elton came back, he told us
what John ostler had been telling him, and then it came out about the
chaise having been sent to Randalls to take Mr. Frank Churchill to
Richmond.  That was what happened before tea.  It was after tea that
Jane spoke to Mrs. Elton."

Miss Bates would hardly give Emma time to say how perfectly new this
circumstance was to her; but as without supposing it possible that she
could be ignorant of any of the particulars of Mr. Frank Churchill's
going, she proceeded to give them all, it was of no consequence.

What Mr. Elton had learned from the ostler on the subject, being the
accumulation of the ostler's own knowledge, and the knowledge of the
servants at Randalls, was, that a messenger had come over from Richmond
soon after the return of the party from Box Hill--which messenger,
however, had been no more than was expected; and that Mr. Churchill had
sent his nephew a few lines, containing, upon the whole, a tolerable
account of Mrs. Churchill, and only wishing him not to delay coming
back beyond the next morning early; but that Mr. Frank Churchill having
resolved to go home directly, without waiting at all, and his horse
seeming to have got a cold, Tom had been sent off immediately for the
Crown chaise, and the ostler had stood out and seen it pass by, the boy
going a good pace, and driving very steady.

There was nothing in all this either to astonish or interest, and it
caught Emma's attention only as it united with the subject which
already engaged her mind.  The contrast between Mrs. Churchill's
importance in the world, and Jane Fairfax's, struck her; one was every
thing, the other nothing--and she sat musing on the difference of
woman's destiny, and quite unconscious on what her eyes were fixed,
till roused by Miss Bates's saying,

"Aye, I see what you are thinking of, the pianoforte.  What is to
become of that?--Very true.  Poor dear Jane was talking of it just
now.-- 'You must go,' said she.  'You and I must part.  You will have
no business here.--Let it stay, however,' said she; 'give it houseroom
till Colonel Campbell comes back.  I shall talk about it to him; he
will settle for me; he will help me out of all my difficulties.'-- And
to this day, I do believe, she knows not whether it was his present or
his daughter's."

Now Emma was obliged to think of the pianoforte; and the remembrance of
all her former fanciful and unfair conjectures was so little pleasing,
that she soon allowed herself to believe her visit had been long
enough; and, with a repetition of every thing that she could venture to
say of the good wishes which she really felt, took leave.



CHAPTER IX


Emma's pensive meditations, as she walked home, were not interrupted;
but on entering the parlour, she found those who must rouse her.  Mr.
Knightley and Harriet had arrived during her absence, and were sitting
with her father.--Mr. Knightley immediately got up, and in a manner
decidedly graver than usual, said,

"I would not go away without seeing you, but I have no time to spare,
and therefore must now be gone directly.  I am going to London, to
spend a few days with John and Isabella.  Have you any thing to send or
say, besides the 'love,' which nobody carries?"

"Nothing at all.  But is not this a sudden scheme?"

"Yes--rather--I have been thinking of it some little time."

Emma was sure he had not forgiven her; he looked unlike himself.  Time,
however, she thought, would tell him that they ought to be friends
again.  While he stood, as if meaning to go, but not going--her father
began his inquiries.

"Well, my dear, and did you get there safely?--And how did you find my
worthy old friend and her daughter?--I dare say they must have been
very much obliged to you for coming.  Dear Emma has been to call on
Mrs. and Miss Bates, Mr. Knightley, as I told you before.  She is
always so attentive to them!"

Emma's colour was heightened by this unjust praise; and with a smile,
and shake of the head, which spoke much, she looked at Mr. Knightley.--
It seemed as if there were an instantaneous impression in her favour,
as if his eyes received the truth from her's, and all that had passed
of good in her feelings were at once caught and honoured.-- He looked
at her with a glow of regard.  She was warmly gratified--and in
another moment still more so, by a little movement of more than common
friendliness on his part.--He took her hand;--whether she had not
herself made the first motion, she could not say--she might, perhaps,
have rather offered it--but he took her hand, pressed it, and certainly
was on the point of carrying it to his lips--when, from some fancy or
other, he suddenly let it go.--Why he should feel such a scruple, why
he should change his mind when it was all but done, she could not
perceive.--He would have judged better, she thought, if he had not
stopped.--The intention, however, was indubitable; and whether it was
that his manners had in general so little gallantry, or however else it
happened, but she thought nothing became him more.-- It was with him,
of so simple, yet so dignified a nature.-- She could not but recall the
attempt with great satisfaction.  It spoke such perfect amity.--He left
them immediately afterwards--gone in a moment.  He always moved with
the alertness of a mind which could neither be undecided nor dilatory,
but now he seemed more sudden than usual in his disappearance.

Emma could not regret her having gone to Miss Bates, but she wished she
had left her ten minutes earlier;--it would have been a great pleasure
to talk over Jane Fairfax's situation with Mr. Knightley.-- Neither
would she regret that he should be going to Brunswick Square, for she
knew how much his visit would be enjoyed--but it might have happened at
a better time--and to have had longer notice of it, would have been
pleasanter.--They parted thorough friends, however; she could not be
deceived as to the meaning of his countenance, and his unfinished
gallantry;--it was all done to assure her that she had fully recovered
his good opinion.--He had been sitting with them half an hour, she
found.  It was a pity that she had not come back earlier!

In the hope of diverting her father's thoughts from the
disagreeableness of Mr. Knightley's going to London; and going so
suddenly; and going on horseback, which she knew would be all very bad;
Emma communicated her news of Jane Fairfax, and her dependence on the
effect was justified; it supplied a very useful check,--interested,
without disturbing him.  He had long made up his mind to Jane Fairfax's
going out as governess, and could talk of it cheerfully, but Mr.
Knightley's going to London had been an unexpected blow.

"I am very glad, indeed, my dear, to hear she is to be so comfortably
settled.  Mrs. Elton is very good-natured and agreeable, and I dare say
her acquaintance are just what they ought to be.  I hope it is a dry
situation, and that her health will be taken good care of.  It ought to
be a first object, as I am sure poor Miss Taylor's always was with me.
You know, my dear, she is going to be to this new lady what Miss Taylor
was to us.  And I hope she will be better off in one respect, and not
be induced to go away after it has been her home so long."

The following day brought news from Richmond to throw every thing else
into the background.  An express arrived at Randalls to announce the
death of Mrs. Churchill!  Though her nephew had had no particular
reason to hasten back on her account, she had not lived above
six-and-thirty hours after his return.  A sudden seizure of a different
nature from any thing foreboded by her general state, had carried her
off after a short struggle.  The great Mrs. Churchill was no more.

It was felt as such things must be felt.  Every body had a degree of
gravity and sorrow; tenderness towards the departed, solicitude for the
surviving friends; and, in a reasonable time, curiosity to know where
she would be buried.  Goldsmith tells us, that when lovely woman stoops
to folly, she has nothing to do but to die; and when she stoops to be
disagreeable, it is equally to be recommended as a clearer of ill-fame.
Mrs. Churchill, after being disliked at least twenty-five years, was
now spoken of with compassionate allowances.  In one point she was
fully justified.  She had never been admitted before to be seriously
ill.  The event acquitted her of all the fancifulness, and all the
selfishness of imaginary complaints.

"Poor Mrs. Churchill! no doubt she had been suffering a great deal:
more than any body had ever supposed--and continual pain would try the
temper.  It was a sad event--a great shock--with all her faults, what
would Mr. Churchill do without her?  Mr. Churchill's loss would be
dreadful indeed.  Mr. Churchill would never get over it."-- Even Mr.
Weston shook his head, and looked solemn, and said, "Ah! poor woman,
who would have thought it!" and resolved, that his mourning should be
as handsome as possible; and his wife sat sighing and moralising over
her broad hems with a commiseration and good sense, true and steady.
How it would affect Frank was among the earliest thoughts of both.  It
was also a very early speculation with Emma.  The character of Mrs.
Churchill, the grief of her husband--her mind glanced over them both
with awe and compassion--and then rested with lightened feelings on how
Frank might be affected by the event, how benefited, how freed.  She
saw in a moment all the possible good.  Now, an attachment to Harriet
Smith would have nothing to encounter.  Mr. Churchill, independent of
his wife, was feared by nobody; an easy, guidable man, to be persuaded
into any thing by his nephew.  All that remained to be wished was, that
the nephew should form the attachment, as, with all her goodwill in the
cause, Emma could feel no certainty of its being already formed.

Harriet behaved extremely well on the occasion, with great
self-command.  What ever she might feel of brighter hope, she betrayed
nothing.  Emma was gratified, to observe such a proof in her of
strengthened character, and refrained from any allusion that might
endanger its maintenance.  They spoke, therefore, of Mrs. Churchill's
death with mutual forbearance.

Short letters from Frank were received at Randalls, communicating all
that was immediately important of their state and plans.  Mr. Churchill
was better than could be expected; and their first removal, on the
departure of the funeral for Yorkshire, was to be to the house of a
very old friend in Windsor, to whom Mr. Churchill had been promising a
visit the last ten years.  At present, there was nothing to be done for
Harriet; good wishes for the future were all that could yet be possible
on Emma's side.

It was a more pressing concern to shew attention to Jane Fairfax, whose
prospects were closing, while Harriet's opened, and whose engagements
now allowed of no delay in any one at Highbury, who wished to shew her
kindness--and with Emma it was grown into a first wish.  She had
scarcely a stronger regret than for her past coldness; and the person,
whom she had been so many months neglecting, was now the very one on
whom she would have lavished every distinction of regard or sympathy.
She wanted to be of use to her; wanted to shew a value for her society,
and testify respect and consideration.  She resolved to prevail on her
to spend a day at Hartfield.  A note was written to urge it.  The
invitation was refused, and by a verbal message.  "Miss Fairfax was not
well enough to write;" and when Mr. Perry called at Hartfield, the same
morning, it appeared that she was so much indisposed as to have been
visited, though against her own consent, by himself, and that she was
suffering under severe headaches, and a nervous fever to a degree,
which made him doubt the possibility of her going to Mrs. Smallridge's
at the time proposed.  Her health seemed for the moment completely
deranged--appetite quite gone--and though there were no absolutely
alarming symptoms, nothing touching the pulmonary complaint, which was
the standing apprehension of the family, Mr. Perry was uneasy about
her.  He thought she had undertaken more than she was equal to, and
that she felt it so herself, though she would not own it.  Her spirits
seemed overcome.  Her present home, he could not but observe, was
unfavourable to a nervous disorder:--confined always to one room;--he
could have wished it otherwise--and her good aunt, though his very old
friend, he must acknowledge to be not the best companion for an invalid
of that description.  Her care and attention could not be questioned;
they were, in fact, only too great.  He very much feared that Miss
Fairfax derived more evil than good from them.  Emma listened with the
warmest concern; grieved for her more and more, and looked around eager
to discover some way of being useful.  To take her--be it only an hour
or two--from her aunt, to give her change of air and scene, and quiet
rational conversation, even for an hour or two, might do her good; and
the following morning she wrote again to say, in the most feeling
language she could command, that she would call for her in the carriage
at any hour that Jane would name--mentioning that she had Mr. Perry's
decided opinion, in favour of such exercise for his patient.  The
answer was only in this short note:

"Miss Fairfax's compliments and thanks, but is quite unequal to any
exercise."

Emma felt that her own note had deserved something better; but it was
impossible to quarrel with words, whose tremulous inequality shewed
indisposition so plainly, and she thought only of how she might best
counteract this unwillingness to be seen or assisted.  In spite of the
answer, therefore, she ordered the carriage, and drove to Mrs. Bates's,
in the hope that Jane would be induced to join her--but it would not
do;--Miss Bates came to the carriage door, all gratitude, and agreeing
with her most earnestly in thinking an airing might be of the greatest
service--and every thing that message could do was tried--but all in
vain.  Miss Bates was obliged to return without success; Jane was quite
unpersuadable; the mere proposal of going out seemed to make her
worse.--Emma wished she could have seen her, and tried her own powers;
but, almost before she could hint the wish, Miss Bates made it appear
that she had promised her niece on no account to let Miss Woodhouse in.
"Indeed, the truth was, that poor dear Jane could not bear to see any
body--any body at all-- Mrs. Elton, indeed, could not be denied--and
Mrs. Cole had made such a point--and Mrs. Perry had said so much--but,
except them, Jane would really see nobody."

Emma did not want to be classed with the Mrs. Eltons, the Mrs. Perrys,
and the Mrs. Coles, who would force themselves anywhere; neither could
she feel any right of preference herself--she submitted, therefore,
and only questioned Miss Bates farther as to her niece's appetite and
diet, which she longed to be able to assist.  On that subject poor Miss
Bates was very unhappy, and very communicative; Jane would hardly eat
any thing:-- Mr. Perry recommended nourishing food; but every thing
they could command (and never had any body such good neighbours) was
distasteful.

Emma, on reaching home, called the housekeeper directly, to an
examination of her stores; and some arrowroot of very superior quality
was speedily despatched to Miss Bates with a most friendly note.  In
half an hour the arrowroot was returned, with a thousand thanks from
Miss Bates, but "dear Jane would not be satisfied without its being
sent back; it was a thing she could not take--and, moreover, she
insisted on her saying, that she was not at all in want of any thing."

When Emma afterwards heard that Jane Fairfax had been seen wandering
about the meadows, at some distance from Highbury, on the afternoon of
the very day on which she had, under the plea of being unequal to any
exercise, so peremptorily refused to go out with her in the carriage,
she could have no doubt--putting every thing together--that Jane was
resolved to receive no kindness from _her_.  She was sorry, very sorry.
Her heart was grieved for a state which seemed but the more pitiable
from this sort of irritation of spirits, inconsistency of action, and
inequality of powers; and it mortified her that she was given so little
credit for proper feeling, or esteemed so little worthy as a friend:
but she had the consolation of knowing that her intentions were good,
and of being able to say to herself, that could Mr. Knightley have been
privy to all her attempts of assisting Jane Fairfax, could he even have
seen into her heart, he would not, on this occasion, have found any
thing to reprove.



CHAPTER X


One morning, about ten days after Mrs. Churchill's decease, Emma was
called downstairs to Mr. Weston, who "could not stay five minutes, and
wanted particularly to speak with her."-- He met her at the
parlour-door, and hardly asking her how she did, in the natural key of
his voice, sunk it immediately, to say, unheard by her father,

"Can you come to Randalls at any time this morning?--Do, if it be
possible.  Mrs. Weston wants to see you.  She must see you."

"Is she unwell?"

"No, no, not at all--only a little agitated.  She would have ordered
the carriage, and come to you, but she must see you _alone_, and that
you know--(nodding towards her father)--Humph!--Can you come?"

"Certainly.  This moment, if you please.  It is impossible to refuse
what you ask in such a way.  But what can be the matter?-- Is she
really not ill?"

"Depend upon me--but ask no more questions.  You will know it all in
time.  The most unaccountable business!  But hush, hush!"

To guess what all this meant, was impossible even for Emma.  Something
really important seemed announced by his looks; but, as her friend was
well, she endeavoured not to be uneasy, and settling it with her
father, that she would take her walk now, she and Mr. Weston were soon
out of the house together and on their way at a quick pace for Randalls.

"Now,"--said Emma, when they were fairly beyond the sweep gates,--"now
Mr. Weston, do let me know what has happened."

"No, no,"--he gravely replied.--"Don't ask me.  I promised my wife to
leave it all to her.  She will break it to you better than I can.  Do
not be impatient, Emma; it will all come out too soon."

"Break it to me," cried Emma, standing still with terror.-- "Good
God!--Mr. Weston, tell me at once.--Something has happened in Brunswick
Square.  I know it has.  Tell me, I charge you tell me this moment what
it is."

"No, indeed you are mistaken."--

"Mr. Weston do not trifle with me.--Consider how many of my dearest
friends are now in Brunswick Square.  Which of them is it?-- I charge
you by all that is sacred, not to attempt concealment."

"Upon my word, Emma."--

"Your word!--why not your honour!--why not say upon your honour, that
it has nothing to do with any of them?  Good Heavens!--What can be to
be _broke_ to me, that does not relate to one of that family?"

"Upon my honour," said he very seriously, "it does not.  It is not in
the smallest degree connected with any human being of the name of
Knightley."

Emma's courage returned, and she walked on.

"I was wrong," he continued, "in talking of its being _broke_ to you.
I should not have used the expression.  In fact, it does not concern
you--it concerns only myself,--that is, we hope.--Humph!--In short, my
dear Emma, there is no occasion to be so uneasy about it.  I don't say
that it is not a disagreeable business--but things might be much
worse.--If we walk fast, we shall soon be at Randalls."

Emma found that she must wait; and now it required little effort.  She
asked no more questions therefore, merely employed her own fancy, and
that soon pointed out to her the probability of its being some money
concern--something just come to light, of a disagreeable nature in the
circumstances of the family,--something which the late event at
Richmond had brought forward.  Her fancy was very active.  Half a dozen
natural children, perhaps--and poor Frank cut off!-- This, though very
undesirable, would be no matter of agony to her.  It inspired little
more than an animating curiosity.

"Who is that gentleman on horseback?" said she, as they proceeded--
speaking more to assist Mr. Weston in keeping his secret, than with any
other view.

"I do not know.--One of the Otways.--Not Frank;--it is not Frank, I
assure you.  You will not see him.  He is half way to Windsor by this
time."

"Has your son been with you, then?"

"Oh! yes--did not you know?--Well, well, never mind."

For a moment he was silent; and then added, in a tone much more guarded
and demure,

"Yes, Frank came over this morning, just to ask us how we did."

They hurried on, and were speedily at Randalls.--"Well, my dear," said
he, as they entered the room--"I have brought her, and now I hope you
will soon be better.  I shall leave you together.  There is no use in
delay.  I shall not be far off, if you want me."-- And Emma distinctly
heard him add, in a lower tone, before he quitted the room,--"I have
been as good as my word.  She has not the least idea."

Mrs. Weston was looking so ill, and had an air of so much perturbation,
that Emma's uneasiness increased; and the moment they were alone, she
eagerly said,

"What is it my dear friend?  Something of a very unpleasant nature, I
find, has occurred;--do let me know directly what it is.  I have been
walking all this way in complete suspense.  We both abhor suspense.  Do
not let mine continue longer.  It will do you good to speak of your
distress, whatever it may be."

"Have you indeed no idea?" said Mrs. Weston in a trembling voice.
"Cannot you, my dear Emma--cannot you form a guess as to what you are
to hear?"

"So far as that it relates to Mr. Frank Churchill, I do guess."

"You are right.  It does relate to him, and I will tell you directly;"
(resuming her work, and seeming resolved against looking up.) "He has
been here this very morning, on a most extraordinary errand.  It is
impossible to express our surprize.  He came to speak to his father on
a subject,--to announce an attachment--"

She stopped to breathe.  Emma thought first of herself, and then of
Harriet.

"More than an attachment, indeed," resumed Mrs. Weston; "an
engagement--a positive engagement.--What will you say, Emma--what will
any body say, when it is known that Frank Churchill and Miss Fairfax
are engaged;--nay, that they have been long engaged!"

Emma even jumped with surprize;--and, horror-struck, exclaimed,

"Jane Fairfax!--Good God!  You are not serious?  You do not mean it?"

"You may well be amazed," returned Mrs. Weston, still averting her
eyes, and talking on with eagerness, that Emma might have time to
recover-- "You may well be amazed.  But it is even so.  There has been
a solemn engagement between them ever since October--formed at
Weymouth, and kept a secret from every body.  Not a creature knowing it
but themselves--neither the Campbells, nor her family, nor his.-- It is
so wonderful, that though perfectly convinced of the fact, it is yet
almost incredible to myself.  I can hardly believe it.-- I thought I
knew him."

Emma scarcely heard what was said.--Her mind was divided between two
ideas--her own former conversations with him about Miss Fairfax; and
poor Harriet;--and for some time she could only exclaim, and require
confirmation, repeated confirmation.

"Well," said she at last, trying to recover herself; "this is a
circumstance which I must think of at least half a day, before I can at
all comprehend it.  What!--engaged to her all the winter--before
either of them came to Highbury?"

"Engaged since October,--secretly engaged.--It has hurt me, Emma, very
much.  It has hurt his father equally.  _Some_ _part_ of his conduct we
cannot excuse."

Emma pondered a moment, and then replied, "I will not pretend _not_ to
understand you; and to give you all the relief in my power, be assured
that no such effect has followed his attentions to me, as you are
apprehensive of."

Mrs. Weston looked up, afraid to believe; but Emma's countenance was as
steady as her words.

"That you may have less difficulty in believing this boast, of my
present perfect indifference," she continued, "I will farther tell you,
that there was a period in the early part of our acquaintance, when I
did like him, when I was very much disposed to be attached to him--nay,
was attached--and how it came to cease, is perhaps the wonder.
Fortunately, however, it did cease.  I have really for some time past,
for at least these three months, cared nothing about him.  You may
believe me, Mrs. Weston.  This is the simple truth."

Mrs. Weston kissed her with tears of joy; and when she could find
utterance, assured her, that this protestation had done her more good
than any thing else in the world could do.

"Mr. Weston will be almost as much relieved as myself," said she.  "On
this point we have been wretched.  It was our darling wish that you
might be attached to each other--and we were persuaded that it was
so.-- Imagine what we have been feeling on your account."

"I have escaped; and that I should escape, may be a matter of grateful
wonder to you and myself.  But this does not acquit _him_, Mrs. Weston;
and I must say, that I think him greatly to blame.  What right had he
to come among us with affection and faith engaged, and with manners so
_very_ disengaged?  What right had he to endeavour to please, as he
certainly did--to distinguish any one young woman with persevering
attention, as he certainly did--while he really belonged to
another?--How could he tell what mischief he might be doing?-- How
could he tell that he might not be making me in love with him?--very
wrong, very wrong indeed."

"From something that he said, my dear Emma, I rather imagine--"

"And how could _she_ bear such behaviour!  Composure with a witness!
to look on, while repeated attentions were offering to another woman,
before her face, and not resent it.--That is a degree of placidity,
which I can neither comprehend nor respect."

"There were misunderstandings between them, Emma; he said so expressly.
He had not time to enter into much explanation.  He was here only a
quarter of an hour, and in a state of agitation which did not allow the
full use even of the time he could stay--but that there had been
misunderstandings he decidedly said.  The present crisis, indeed,
seemed to be brought on by them; and those misunderstandings might very
possibly arise from the impropriety of his conduct."

"Impropriety!  Oh!  Mrs. Weston--it is too calm a censure.  Much, much
beyond impropriety!--It has sunk him, I cannot say how it has sunk him
in my opinion.  So unlike what a man should be!-- None of that upright
integrity, that strict adherence to truth and principle, that disdain
of trick and littleness, which a man should display in every
transaction of his life."

"Nay, dear Emma, now I must take his part; for though he has been wrong
in this instance, I have known him long enough to answer for his having
many, very many, good qualities; and--"

"Good God!" cried Emma, not attending to her.--"Mrs. Smallridge, too!
Jane actually on the point of going as governess!  What could he mean
by such horrible indelicacy?  To suffer her to engage herself--to
suffer her even to think of such a measure!"

"He knew nothing about it, Emma.  On this article I can fully acquit
him.  It was a private resolution of hers, not communicated to him--or
at least not communicated in a way to carry conviction.-- Till
yesterday, I know he said he was in the dark as to her plans.  They
burst on him, I do not know how, but by some letter or message--and it
was the discovery of what she was doing, of this very project of hers,
which determined him to come forward at once, own it all to his uncle,
throw himself on his kindness, and, in short, put an end to the
miserable state of concealment that had been carrying on so long."

Emma began to listen better.

"I am to hear from him soon," continued Mrs. Weston.  "He told me at
parting, that he should soon write; and he spoke in a manner which
seemed to promise me many particulars that could not be given now.  Let
us wait, therefore, for this letter.  It may bring many extenuations.
It may make many things intelligible and excusable which now are not to
be understood.  Don't let us be severe, don't let us be in a hurry to
condemn him.  Let us have patience.  I must love him; and now that I am
satisfied on one point, the one material point, I am sincerely anxious
for its all turning out well, and ready to hope that it may.  They must
both have suffered a great deal under such a system of secresy and
concealment."

"_His_ sufferings," replied Emma dryly, "do not appear to have done him
much harm.  Well, and how did Mr. Churchill take it?"

"Most favourably for his nephew--gave his consent with scarcely a
difficulty.  Conceive what the events of a week have done in that
family!  While poor Mrs. Churchill lived, I suppose there could not
have been a hope, a chance, a possibility;--but scarcely are her
remains at rest in the family vault, than her husband is persuaded to
act exactly opposite to what she would have required.  What a blessing
it is, when undue influence does not survive the grave!-- He gave his
consent with very little persuasion."

"Ah!" thought Emma, "he would have done as much for Harriet."

"This was settled last night, and Frank was off with the light this
morning.  He stopped at Highbury, at the Bates's, I fancy, some
time--and then came on hither; but was in such a hurry to get back to
his uncle, to whom he is just now more necessary than ever, that, as I
tell you, he could stay with us but a quarter of an hour.-- He was very
much agitated--very much, indeed--to a degree that made him appear
quite a different creature from any thing I had ever seen him
before.--In addition to all the rest, there had been the shock of
finding her so very unwell, which he had had no previous suspicion of--
and there was every appearance of his having been feeling a great deal."

"And do you really believe the affair to have been carrying on with
such perfect secresy?--The Campbells, the Dixons, did none of them know
of the engagement?"

Emma could not speak the name of Dixon without a little blush.

"None; not one.  He positively said that it had been known to no being
in the world but their two selves."

"Well," said Emma, "I suppose we shall gradually grow reconciled to the
idea, and I wish them very happy.  But I shall always think it a very
abominable sort of proceeding.  What has it been but a system of
hypocrisy and deceit,--espionage, and treachery?-- To come among us
with professions of openness and simplicity; and such a league in
secret to judge us all!--Here have we been, the whole winter and
spring, completely duped, fancying ourselves all on an equal footing of
truth and honour, with two people in the midst of us who may have been
carrying round, comparing and sitting in judgment on sentiments and
words that were never meant for both to hear.--They must take the
consequence, if they have heard each other spoken of in a way not
perfectly agreeable!"

"I am quite easy on that head," replied Mrs. Weston.  "I am very sure
that I never said any thing of either to the other, which both might
not have heard."

"You are in luck.--Your only blunder was confined to my ear, when you
imagined a certain friend of ours in love with the lady."

"True.  But as I have always had a thoroughly good opinion of Miss
Fairfax, I never could, under any blunder, have spoken ill of her; and
as to speaking ill of him, there I must have been safe."

At this moment Mr. Weston appeared at a little distance from the
window, evidently on the watch.  His wife gave him a look which invited
him in; and, while he was coming round, added, "Now, dearest Emma, let
me intreat you to say and look every thing that may set his heart at
ease, and incline him to be satisfied with the match.  Let us make the
best of it--and, indeed, almost every thing may be fairly said in her
favour.  It is not a connexion to gratify; but if Mr. Churchill does
not feel that, why should we? and it may be a very fortunate
circumstance for him, for Frank, I mean, that he should have attached
himself to a girl of such steadiness of character and good judgment as
I have always given her credit for--and still am disposed to give her
credit for, in spite of this one great deviation from the strict rule
of right.  And how much may be said in her situation for even that
error!"

"Much, indeed!" cried Emma feelingly.  "If a woman can ever be excused
for thinking only of herself, it is in a situation like Jane
Fairfax's.--Of such, one may almost say, that 'the world is not
their's, nor the world's law.'"

She met Mr. Weston on his entrance, with a smiling countenance,
exclaiming,

"A very pretty trick you have been playing me, upon my word!  This was
a device, I suppose, to sport with my curiosity, and exercise my talent
of guessing.  But you really frightened me.  I thought you had lost
half your property, at least.  And here, instead of its being a matter
of condolence, it turns out to be one of congratulation.--I
congratulate you, Mr. Weston, with all my heart, on the prospect of
having one of the most lovely and accomplished young women in England
for your daughter."

A glance or two between him and his wife, convinced him that all was as
right as this speech proclaimed; and its happy effect on his spirits
was immediate.  His air and voice recovered their usual briskness: he
shook her heartily and gratefully by the hand, and entered on the
subject in a manner to prove, that he now only wanted time and
persuasion to think the engagement no very bad thing.  His companions
suggested only what could palliate imprudence, or smooth objections;
and by the time they had talked it all over together, and he had talked
it all over again with Emma, in their walk back to Hartfield, he was
become perfectly reconciled, and not far from thinking it the very best
thing that Frank could possibly have done.



CHAPTER XI


"Harriet, poor Harriet!"--Those were the words; in them lay the
tormenting ideas which Emma could not get rid of, and which constituted
the real misery of the business to her.  Frank Churchill had behaved
very ill by herself--very ill in many ways,--but it was not so much
_his_ behaviour as her _own_, which made her so angry with him.  It was
the scrape which he had drawn her into on Harriet's account, that gave
the deepest hue to his offence.--Poor Harriet! to be a second time the
dupe of her misconceptions and flattery.  Mr. Knightley had spoken
prophetically, when he once said, "Emma, you have been no friend to
Harriet Smith."--She was afraid she had done her nothing but
disservice.--It was true that she had not to charge herself, in this
instance as in the former, with being the sole and original author of
the mischief; with having suggested such feelings as might otherwise
never have entered Harriet's imagination; for Harriet had acknowledged
her admiration and preference of Frank Churchill before she had ever
given her a hint on the subject; but she felt completely guilty of
having encouraged what she might have repressed.  She might have
prevented the indulgence and increase of such sentiments.  Her
influence would have been enough.  And now she was very conscious that
she ought to have prevented them.--She felt that she had been risking
her friend's happiness on most insufficient grounds.  Common sense
would have directed her to tell Harriet, that she must not allow
herself to think of him, and that there were five hundred chances to
one against his ever caring for her.--"But, with common sense," she
added, "I am afraid I have had little to do."

She was extremely angry with herself.  If she could not have been angry
with Frank Churchill too, it would have been dreadful.-- As for Jane
Fairfax, she might at least relieve her feelings from any present
solicitude on her account.  Harriet would be anxiety enough; she need
no longer be unhappy about Jane, whose troubles and whose ill-health
having, of course, the same origin, must be equally under cure.--Her
days of insignificance and evil were over.--She would soon be well, and
happy, and prosperous.-- Emma could now imagine why her own attentions
had been slighted.  This discovery laid many smaller matters open.  No
doubt it had been from jealousy.--In Jane's eyes she had been a rival;
and well might any thing she could offer of assistance or regard be
repulsed.  An airing in the Hartfield carriage would have been the
rack, and arrowroot from the Hartfield storeroom must have been poison.
She understood it all; and as far as her mind could disengage itself
from the injustice and selfishness of angry feelings, she acknowledged
that Jane Fairfax would have neither elevation nor happiness beyond her
desert.  But poor Harriet was such an engrossing charge!  There was
little sympathy to be spared for any body else.  Emma was sadly fearful
that this second disappointment would be more severe than the first.
Considering the very superior claims of the object, it ought; and
judging by its apparently stronger effect on Harriet's mind, producing
reserve and self-command, it would.-- She must communicate the painful
truth, however, and as soon as possible.  An injunction of secresy had
been among Mr. Weston's parting words.  "For the present, the whole
affair was to be completely a secret.  Mr. Churchill had made a point
of it, as a token of respect to the wife he had so very recently lost;
and every body admitted it to be no more than due decorum."-- Emma had
promised; but still Harriet must be excepted.  It was her superior duty.

In spite of her vexation, she could not help feeling it almost
ridiculous, that she should have the very same distressing and delicate
office to perform by Harriet, which Mrs. Weston had just gone through
by herself.  The intelligence, which had been so anxiously announced to
her, she was now to be anxiously announcing to another.  Her heart beat
quick on hearing Harriet's footstep and voice; so, she supposed, had
poor Mrs. Weston felt when _she_ was approaching Randalls.  Could the
event of the disclosure bear an equal resemblance!-- But of that,
unfortunately, there could be no chance.

"Well, Miss Woodhouse!" cried Harriet, coming eagerly into the room--
"is not this the oddest news that ever was?"

"What news do you mean?" replied Emma, unable to guess, by look or
voice, whether Harriet could indeed have received any hint.

"About Jane Fairfax.  Did you ever hear any thing so strange?  Oh!--you
need not be afraid of owning it to me, for Mr. Weston has told me
himself.  I met him just now.  He told me it was to be a great secret;
and, therefore, I should not think of mentioning it to any body but
you, but he said you knew it."

"What did Mr. Weston tell you?"--said Emma, still perplexed.

"Oh! he told me all about it; that Jane Fairfax and Mr. Frank Churchill
are to be married, and that they have been privately engaged to one
another this long while.  How very odd!"

It was, indeed, so odd; Harriet's behaviour was so extremely odd, that
Emma did not know how to understand it.  Her character appeared
absolutely changed.  She seemed to propose shewing no agitation, or
disappointment, or peculiar concern in the discovery.  Emma looked at
her, quite unable to speak.

"Had you any idea," cried Harriet, "of his being in love with
her?--You, perhaps, might.--You (blushing as she spoke) who can see
into every body's heart; but nobody else--"

"Upon my word," said Emma, "I begin to doubt my having any such talent.
Can you seriously ask me, Harriet, whether I imagined him attached to
another woman at the very time that I was--tacitly, if not openly--
encouraging you to give way to your own feelings?--I never had the
slightest suspicion, till within the last hour, of Mr. Frank
Churchill's having the least regard for Jane Fairfax.  You may be very
sure that if I had, I should have cautioned you accordingly."

"Me!" cried Harriet, colouring, and astonished.  "Why should you
caution me?--You do not think I care about Mr. Frank Churchill."

"I am delighted to hear you speak so stoutly on the subject," replied
Emma, smiling; "but you do not mean to deny that there was a time--and
not very distant either--when you gave me reason to understand that you
did care about him?"

"Him!--never, never.  Dear Miss Woodhouse, how could you so mistake
me?" turning away distressed.

"Harriet!" cried Emma, after a moment's pause--"What do you mean?--
Good Heaven! what do you mean?--Mistake you!--Am I to suppose then?--"

She could not speak another word.--Her voice was lost; and she sat
down, waiting in great terror till Harriet should answer.

Harriet, who was standing at some distance, and with face turned from
her, did not immediately say any thing; and when she did speak, it was
in a voice nearly as agitated as Emma's.

"I should not have thought it possible," she began, "that you could
have misunderstood me!  I know we agreed never to name him--but
considering how infinitely superior he is to every body else, I should
not have thought it possible that I could be supposed to mean any other
person.  Mr. Frank Churchill, indeed!  I do not know who would ever
look at him in the company of the other.  I hope I have a better taste
than to think of Mr. Frank Churchill, who is like nobody by his side.
And that you should have been so mistaken, is amazing!--I am sure, but
for believing that you entirely approved and meant to encourage me in
my attachment, I should have considered it at first too great a
presumption almost, to dare to think of him.  At first, if you had not
told me that more wonderful things had happened; that there had been
matches of greater disparity (those were your very words);-- I should
not have dared to give way to--I should not have thought it
possible--But if _you_, who had been always acquainted with him--"

"Harriet!" cried Emma, collecting herself resolutely--"Let us
understand each other now, without the possibility of farther mistake.
Are you speaking of--Mr. Knightley?"

"To be sure I am.  I never could have an idea of any body else--and so
I thought you knew.  When we talked about him, it was as clear as
possible."

"Not quite," returned Emma, with forced calmness, "for all that you
then said, appeared to me to relate to a different person.  I could
almost assert that you had _named_ Mr. Frank Churchill.  I am sure the
service Mr. Frank Churchill had rendered you, in protecting you from
the gipsies, was spoken of."

"Oh!  Miss Woodhouse, how you do forget!"

"My dear Harriet, I perfectly remember the substance of what I said on
the occasion.  I told you that I did not wonder at your attachment;
that considering the service he had rendered you, it was extremely
natural:--and you agreed to it, expressing yourself very warmly as to
your sense of that service, and mentioning even what your sensations
had been in seeing him come forward to your rescue.--The impression of
it is strong on my memory."

"Oh, dear," cried Harriet, "now I recollect what you mean; but I was
thinking of something very different at the time.  It was not the
gipsies--it was not Mr. Frank Churchill that I meant.  No! (with some
elevation) I was thinking of a much more precious circumstance--of Mr.
Knightley's coming and asking me to dance, when Mr. Elton would not
stand up with me; and when there was no other partner in the room.
That was the kind action; that was the noble benevolence and
generosity; that was the service which made me begin to feel how
superior he was to every other being upon earth."

"Good God!" cried Emma, "this has been a most unfortunate--most
deplorable mistake!--What is to be done?"

"You would not have encouraged me, then, if you had understood me?  At
least, however, I cannot be worse off than I should have been, if the
other had been the person; and now--it _is_ possible--"

She paused a few moments.  Emma could not speak.

"I do not wonder, Miss Woodhouse," she resumed, "that you should feel a
great difference between the two, as to me or as to any body.  You must
think one five hundred million times more above me than the other.  But
I hope, Miss Woodhouse, that supposing--that if--strange as it may
appear--.  But you know they were your own words, that _more_ wonderful
things had happened, matches of _greater_ disparity had taken place
than between Mr. Frank Churchill and me; and, therefore, it seems as if
such a thing even as this, may have occurred before--and if I should
be so fortunate, beyond expression, as to--if Mr. Knightley should
really--if _he_ does not mind the disparity, I hope, dear Miss
Woodhouse, you will not set yourself against it, and try to put
difficulties in the way.  But you are too good for that, I am sure."

Harriet was standing at one of the windows.  Emma turned round to look
at her in consternation, and hastily said,

"Have you any idea of Mr. Knightley's returning your affection?"

"Yes," replied Harriet modestly, but not fearfully--"I must say that I
have."

Emma's eyes were instantly withdrawn; and she sat silently meditating,
in a fixed attitude, for a few minutes.  A few minutes were sufficient
for making her acquainted with her own heart.  A mind like hers, once
opening to suspicion, made rapid progress.  She touched--she
admitted--she acknowledged the whole truth.  Why was it so much worse
that Harriet should be in love with Mr. Knightley, than with Frank
Churchill?  Why was the evil so dreadfully increased by Harriet's
having some hope of a return?  It darted through her, with the speed of
an arrow, that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!

Her own conduct, as well as her own heart, was before her in the same
few minutes.  She saw it all with a clearness which had never blessed
her before.  How improperly had she been acting by Harriet!  How
inconsiderate, how indelicate, how irrational, how unfeeling had been
her conduct!  What blindness, what madness, had led her on!  It struck
her with dreadful force, and she was ready to give it every bad name in
the world.  Some portion of respect for herself, however, in spite of
all these demerits--some concern for her own appearance, and a strong
sense of justice by Harriet--(there would be no need of _compassion_ to
the girl who believed herself loved by Mr. Knightley--but justice
required that she should not be made unhappy by any coldness now,) gave
Emma the resolution to sit and endure farther with calmness, with even
apparent kindness.--For her own advantage indeed, it was fit that the
utmost extent of Harriet's hopes should be enquired into; and Harriet
had done nothing to forfeit the regard and interest which had been so
voluntarily formed and maintained--or to deserve to be slighted by the
person, whose counsels had never led her right.-- Rousing from
reflection, therefore, and subduing her emotion, she turned to Harriet
again, and, in a more inviting accent, renewed the conversation; for as
to the subject which had first introduced it, the wonderful story of
Jane Fairfax, that was quite sunk and lost.-- Neither of them thought
but of Mr. Knightley and themselves.

Harriet, who had been standing in no unhappy reverie, was yet very glad
to be called from it, by the now encouraging manner of such a judge,
and such a friend as Miss Woodhouse, and only wanted invitation, to
give the history of her hopes with great, though trembling
delight.--Emma's tremblings as she asked, and as she listened, were
better concealed than Harriet's, but they were not less.  Her voice was
not unsteady; but her mind was in all the perturbation that such a
development of self, such a burst of threatening evil, such a confusion
of sudden and perplexing emotions, must create.-- She listened with
much inward suffering, but with great outward patience, to Harriet's
detail.--Methodical, or well arranged, or very well delivered, it could
not be expected to be; but it contained, when separated from all the
feebleness and tautology of the narration, a substance to sink her
spirit--especially with the corroborating circumstances, which her own
memory brought in favour of Mr. Knightley's most improved opinion of
Harriet.

Harriet had been conscious of a difference in his behaviour ever since
those two decisive dances.--Emma knew that he had, on that occasion,
found her much superior to his expectation.  From that evening, or at
least from the time of Miss Woodhouse's encouraging her to think of
him, Harriet had begun to be sensible of his talking to her much more
than he had been used to do, and of his having indeed quite a different
manner towards her; a manner of kindness and sweetness!--Latterly she
had been more and more aware of it.  When they had been all walking
together, he had so often come and walked by her, and talked so very
delightfully!--He seemed to want to be acquainted with her.  Emma knew
it to have been very much the case.  She had often observed the change,
to almost the same extent.-- Harriet repeated expressions of
approbation and praise from him--and Emma felt them to be in the
closest agreement with what she had known of his opinion of Harriet.
He praised her for being without art or affectation, for having simple,
honest, generous, feelings.-- She knew that he saw such recommendations
in Harriet; he had dwelt on them to her more than once.--Much that
lived in Harriet's memory, many little particulars of the notice she
had received from him, a look, a speech, a removal from one chair to
another, a compliment implied, a preference inferred, had been
unnoticed, because unsuspected, by Emma.  Circumstances that might
swell to half an hour's relation, and contained multiplied proofs to
her who had seen them, had passed undiscerned by her who now heard
them; but the two latest occurrences to be mentioned, the two of
strongest promise to Harriet, were not without some degree of witness
from Emma herself.--The first, was his walking with her apart from the
others, in the lime-walk at Donwell, where they had been walking some
time before Emma came, and he had taken pains (as she was convinced) to
draw her from the rest to himself--and at first, he had talked to her
in a more particular way than he had ever done before, in a very
particular way indeed!--(Harriet could not recall it without a blush.)
He seemed to be almost asking her, whether her affections were
engaged.-- But as soon as she (Miss Woodhouse) appeared likely to join
them, he changed the subject, and began talking about farming:-- The
second, was his having sat talking with her nearly half an hour before
Emma came back from her visit, the very last morning of his being at
Hartfield--though, when he first came in, he had said that he could not
stay five minutes--and his having told her, during their conversation,
that though he must go to London, it was very much against his
inclination that he left home at all, which was much more (as Emma
felt) than he had acknowledged to _her_.  The superior degree of
confidence towards Harriet, which this one article marked, gave her
severe pain.

On the subject of the first of the two circumstances, she did, after a
little reflection, venture the following question.  "Might he not?--Is
not it possible, that when enquiring, as you thought, into the state of
your affections, he might be alluding to Mr. Martin--he might have Mr.
Martin's interest in view?  But Harriet rejected the suspicion with
spirit.

"Mr. Martin!  No indeed!--There was not a hint of Mr. Martin.  I hope I
know better now, than to care for Mr. Martin, or to be suspected of it."

When Harriet had closed her evidence, she appealed to her dear Miss
Woodhouse, to say whether she had not good ground for hope.

"I never should have presumed to think of it at first," said she, "but
for you.  You told me to observe him carefully, and let his behaviour
be the rule of mine--and so I have.  But now I seem to feel that I may
deserve him; and that if he does chuse me, it will not be any thing so
very wonderful."

The bitter feelings occasioned by this speech, the many bitter
feelings, made the utmost exertion necessary on Emma's side, to enable
her to say on reply,

"Harriet, I will only venture to declare, that Mr. Knightley is the
last man in the world, who would intentionally give any woman the idea
of his feeling for her more than he really does."

Harriet seemed ready to worship her friend for a sentence so
satisfactory; and Emma was only saved from raptures and fondness, which
at that moment would have been dreadful penance, by the sound of her
father's footsteps.  He was coming through the hall.  Harriet was too
much agitated to encounter him.  "She could not compose herself-- Mr.
Woodhouse would be alarmed--she had better go;"--with most ready
encouragement from her friend, therefore, she passed off through
another door--and the moment she was gone, this was the spontaneous
burst of Emma's feelings:  "Oh God! that I had never seen her!"

The rest of the day, the following night, were hardly enough for her
thoughts.--She was bewildered amidst the confusion of all that had
rushed on her within the last few hours.  Every moment had brought a
fresh surprize; and every surprize must be matter of humiliation to
her.--How to understand it all!  How to understand the deceptions she
had been thus practising on herself, and living under!--The blunders,
the blindness of her own head and heart!--she sat still, she walked
about, she tried her own room, she tried the shrubbery--in every place,
every posture, she perceived that she had acted most weakly; that she
had been imposed on by others in a most mortifying degree; that she had
been imposing on herself in a degree yet more mortifying; that she was
wretched, and should probably find this day but the beginning of
wretchedness.

To understand, thoroughly understand her own heart, was the first
endeavour.  To that point went every leisure moment which her father's
claims on her allowed, and every moment of involuntary absence of mind.

How long had Mr. Knightley been so dear to her, as every feeling
declared him now to be?  When had his influence, such influence
begun?-- When had he succeeded to that place in her affection, which
Frank Churchill had once, for a short period, occupied?--She looked
back; she compared the two--compared them, as they had always stood in
her estimation, from the time of the latter's becoming known to her--
and as they must at any time have been compared by her, had it--oh!
had it, by any blessed felicity, occurred to her, to institute the
comparison.--She saw that there never had been a time when she did not
consider Mr. Knightley as infinitely the superior, or when his regard
for her had not been infinitely the most dear.  She saw, that in
persuading herself, in fancying, in acting to the contrary, she had
been entirely under a delusion, totally ignorant of her own heart--and,
in short, that she had never really cared for Frank Churchill at all!

This was the conclusion of the first series of reflection.  This was
the knowledge of herself, on the first question of inquiry, which she
reached; and without being long in reaching it.-- She was most
sorrowfully indignant; ashamed of every sensation but the one revealed
to her--her affection for Mr. Knightley.-- Every other part of her mind
was disgusting.

With insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of
every body's feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange
every body's destiny.  She was proved to have been universally
mistaken; and she had not quite done nothing--for she had done
mischief.  She had brought evil on Harriet, on herself, and she too
much feared, on Mr. Knightley.--Were this most unequal of all
connexions to take place, on her must rest all the reproach of having
given it a beginning; for his attachment, she must believe to be
produced only by a consciousness of Harriet's;--and even were this not
the case, he would never have known Harriet at all but for her folly.

Mr. Knightley and Harriet Smith!--It was a union to distance every
wonder of the kind.--The attachment of Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax
became commonplace, threadbare, stale in the comparison, exciting no
surprize, presenting no disparity, affording nothing to be said or
thought.--Mr. Knightley and Harriet Smith!--Such an elevation on her
side!  Such a debasement on his!  It was horrible to Emma to think how
it must sink him in the general opinion, to foresee the smiles, the
sneers, the merriment it would prompt at his expense; the mortification
and disdain of his brother, the thousand inconveniences to
himself.--Could it be?--No; it was impossible.  And yet it was far,
very far, from impossible.--Was it a new circumstance for a man of
first-rate abilities to be captivated by very inferior powers?  Was it
new for one, perhaps too busy to seek, to be the prize of a girl who
would seek him?--Was it new for any thing in this world to be unequal,
inconsistent, incongruous--or for chance and circumstance (as second
causes) to direct the human fate?

Oh! had she never brought Harriet forward!  Had she left her where she
ought, and where he had told her she ought!--Had she not, with a folly
which no tongue could express, prevented her marrying the
unexceptionable young man who would have made her happy and respectable
in the line of life to which she ought to belong--all would have been
safe; none of this dreadful sequel would have been.

How Harriet could ever have had the presumption to raise her thoughts
to Mr. Knightley!--How she could dare to fancy herself the chosen of
such a man till actually assured of it!-- But Harriet was less humble,
had fewer scruples than formerly.-- Her inferiority, whether of mind or
situation, seemed little felt.-- She had seemed more sensible of Mr.
Elton's being to stoop in marrying her, than she now seemed of Mr.
Knightley's.-- Alas! was not that her own doing too?  Who had been at
pains to give Harriet notions of self-consequence but herself?--Who but
herself had taught her, that she was to elevate herself if possible,
and that her claims were great to a high worldly establishment?-- If
Harriet, from being humble, were grown vain, it was her doing too.



CHAPTER XII


Till now that she was threatened with its loss, Emma had never known
how much of her happiness depended on being _first_ with Mr. Knightley,
first in interest and affection.--Satisfied that it was so, and feeling
it her due, she had enjoyed it without reflection; and only in the
dread of being supplanted, found how inexpressibly important it had
been.--Long, very long, she felt she had been first; for, having no
female connexions of his own, there had been only Isabella whose claims
could be compared with hers, and she had always known exactly how far
he loved and esteemed Isabella.  She had herself been first with him
for many years past.  She had not deserved it; she had often been
negligent or perverse, slighting his advice, or even wilfully opposing
him, insensible of half his merits, and quarrelling with him because he
would not acknowledge her false and insolent estimate of her own--but
still, from family attachment and habit, and thorough excellence of
mind, he had loved her, and watched over her from a girl, with an
endeavour to improve her, and an anxiety for her doing right, which no
other creature had at all shared.  In spite of all her faults, she knew
she was dear to him; might she not say, very dear?-- When the
suggestions of hope, however, which must follow here, presented
themselves, she could not presume to indulge them.  Harriet Smith might
think herself not unworthy of being peculiarly, exclusively,
passionately loved by Mr. Knightley.  _She_ could not.  She could not
flatter herself with any idea of blindness in his attachment to _her_.
She had received a very recent proof of its impartiality.-- How shocked
had he been by her behaviour to Miss Bates!  How directly, how strongly
had he expressed himself to her on the subject!--Not too strongly for
the offence--but far, far too strongly to issue from any feeling softer
than upright justice and clear-sighted goodwill.-- She had no hope,
nothing to deserve the name of hope, that he could have that sort of
affection for herself which was now in question; but there was a hope
(at times a slight one, at times much stronger,) that Harriet might
have deceived herself, and be overrating his regard for _her_.--Wish it
she must, for his sake--be the consequence nothing to herself, but his
remaining single all his life.  Could she be secure of that, indeed, of
his never marrying at all, she believed she should be perfectly
satisfied.--Let him but continue the same Mr. Knightley to her and her
father, the same Mr. Knightley to all the world; let Donwell and
Hartfield lose none of their precious intercourse of friendship and
confidence, and her peace would be fully secured.--Marriage, in fact,
would not do for her.  It would be incompatible with what she owed to
her father, and with what she felt for him.  Nothing should separate
her from her father.  She would not marry, even if she were asked by
Mr. Knightley.

It must be her ardent wish that Harriet might be disappointed; and she
hoped, that when able to see them together again, she might at least be
able to ascertain what the chances for it were.--She should see them
henceforward with the closest observance; and wretchedly as she had
hitherto misunderstood even those she was watching, she did not know
how to admit that she could be blinded here.-- He was expected back
every day.  The power of observation would be soon given--frightfully
soon it appeared when her thoughts were in one course.  In the
meanwhile, she resolved against seeing Harriet.-- It would do neither
of them good, it would do the subject no good, to be talking of it
farther.--She was resolved not to be convinced, as long as she could
doubt, and yet had no authority for opposing Harriet's confidence.  To
talk would be only to irritate.--She wrote to her, therefore, kindly,
but decisively, to beg that she would not, at present, come to
Hartfield; acknowledging it to be her conviction, that all farther
confidential discussion of _one_ topic had better be avoided; and
hoping, that if a few days were allowed to pass before they met again,
except in the company of others--she objected only to a
tete-a-tete--they might be able to act as if they had forgotten the
conversation of yesterday.--Harriet submitted, and approved, and was
grateful.

This point was just arranged, when a visitor arrived to tear Emma's
thoughts a little from the one subject which had engrossed them,
sleeping or waking, the last twenty-four hours--Mrs. Weston, who had
been calling on her daughter-in-law elect, and took Hartfield in her
way home, almost as much in duty to Emma as in pleasure to herself, to
relate all the particulars of so interesting an interview.

Mr. Weston had accompanied her to Mrs. Bates's, and gone through his
share of this essential attention most handsomely; but she having then
induced Miss Fairfax to join her in an airing, was now returned with
much more to say, and much more to say with satisfaction, than a
quarter of an hour spent in Mrs. Bates's parlour, with all the
encumbrance of awkward feelings, could have afforded.

A little curiosity Emma had; and she made the most of it while her
friend related.  Mrs. Weston had set off to pay the visit in a good
deal of agitation herself; and in the first place had wished not to go
at all at present, to be allowed merely to write to Miss Fairfax
instead, and to defer this ceremonious call till a little time had
passed, and Mr. Churchill could be reconciled to the engagement's
becoming known; as, considering every thing, she thought such a visit
could not be paid without leading to reports:--but Mr. Weston had
thought differently; he was extremely anxious to shew his approbation
to Miss Fairfax and her family, and did not conceive that any suspicion
could be excited by it; or if it were, that it would be of any
consequence; for "such things," he observed, "always got about."  Emma
smiled, and felt that Mr. Weston had very good reason for saying so.
They had gone, in short--and very great had been the evident distress
and confusion of the lady.  She had hardly been able to speak a word,
and every look and action had shewn how deeply she was suffering from
consciousness.  The quiet, heart-felt satisfaction of the old lady, and
the rapturous delight of her daughter--who proved even too joyous to
talk as usual, had been a gratifying, yet almost an affecting, scene.
They were both so truly respectable in their happiness, so
disinterested in every sensation; thought so much of Jane; so much of
every body, and so little of themselves, that every kindly feeling was
at work for them.  Miss Fairfax's recent illness had offered a fair
plea for Mrs. Weston to invite her to an airing; she had drawn back and
declined at first, but, on being pressed had yielded; and, in the
course of their drive, Mrs. Weston had, by gentle encouragement,
overcome so much of her embarrassment, as to bring her to converse on
the important subject.  Apologies for her seemingly ungracious silence
in their first reception, and the warmest expressions of the gratitude
she was always feeling towards herself and Mr. Weston, must necessarily
open the cause; but when these effusions were put by, they had talked a
good deal of the present and of the future state of the engagement.
Mrs. Weston was convinced that such conversation must be the greatest
relief to her companion, pent up within her own mind as every thing had
so long been, and was very much pleased with all that she had said on
the subject.

"On the misery of what she had suffered, during the concealment of so
many months," continued Mrs. Weston, "she was energetic.  This was one
of her expressions.  'I will not say, that since I entered into the
engagement I have not had some happy moments; but I can say, that I
have never known the blessing of one tranquil hour:'--and the
quivering lip, Emma, which uttered it, was an attestation that I felt
at my heart."

"Poor girl!" said Emma.  "She thinks herself wrong, then, for having
consented to a private engagement?"

"Wrong!  No one, I believe, can blame her more than she is disposed to
blame herself.  'The consequence,' said she, 'has been a state of
perpetual suffering to me; and so it ought.  But after all the
punishment that misconduct can bring, it is still not less misconduct.
Pain is no expiation.  I never can be blameless.  I have been acting
contrary to all my sense of right; and the fortunate turn that every
thing has taken, and the kindness I am now receiving, is what my
conscience tells me ought not to be.'  'Do not imagine, madam,' she
continued, 'that I was taught wrong.  Do not let any reflection fall on
the principles or the care of the friends who brought me up.  The error
has been all my own; and I do assure you that, with all the excuse that
present circumstances may appear to give, I shall yet dread making the
story known to Colonel Campbell.'"

"Poor girl!" said Emma again.  "She loves him then excessively, I
suppose.  It must have been from attachment only, that she could be led
to form the engagement.  Her affection must have overpowered her
judgment."

"Yes, I have no doubt of her being extremely attached to him."

"I am afraid," returned Emma, sighing, "that I must often have
contributed to make her unhappy."

"On your side, my love, it was very innocently done.  But she probably
had something of that in her thoughts, when alluding to the
misunderstandings which he had given us hints of before.  One natural
consequence of the evil she had involved herself in," she said, "was
that of making her _unreasonable_.  The consciousness of having done
amiss, had exposed her to a thousand inquietudes, and made her captious
and irritable to a degree that must have been--that had been--hard for
him to bear.  'I did not make the allowances,' said she, 'which I ought
to have done, for his temper and spirits--his delightful spirits, and
that gaiety, that playfulness of disposition, which, under any other
circumstances, would, I am sure, have been as constantly bewitching to
me, as they were at first.' She then began to speak of you, and of the
great kindness you had shewn her during her illness; and with a blush
which shewed me how it was all connected, desired me, whenever I had an
opportunity, to thank you--I could not thank you too much--for every
wish and every endeavour to do her good.  She was sensible that you had
never received any proper acknowledgment from herself."

"If I did not know her to be happy now," said Emma, seriously, "which,
in spite of every little drawback from her scrupulous conscience, she
must be, I could not bear these thanks;--for, oh!  Mrs. Weston, if
there were an account drawn up of the evil and the good I have done
Miss Fairfax!--Well (checking herself, and trying to be more lively),
this is all to be forgotten.  You are very kind to bring me these
interesting particulars.  They shew her to the greatest advantage.  I
am sure she is very good--I hope she will be very happy.  It is fit
that the fortune should be on his side, for I think the merit will be
all on hers."

Such a conclusion could not pass unanswered by Mrs. Weston.  She
thought well of Frank in almost every respect; and, what was more, she
loved him very much, and her defence was, therefore, earnest.  She
talked with a great deal of reason, and at least equal affection--but
she had too much to urge for Emma's attention; it was soon gone to
Brunswick Square or to Donwell; she forgot to attempt to listen; and
when Mrs. Weston ended with, "We have not yet had the letter we are so
anxious for, you know, but I hope it will soon come," she was obliged
to pause before she answered, and at last obliged to answer at random,
before she could at all recollect what letter it was which they were so
anxious for.

"Are you well, my Emma?" was Mrs. Weston's parting question.

"Oh! perfectly.  I am always well, you know.  Be sure to give me
intelligence of the letter as soon as possible."

Mrs. Weston's communications furnished Emma with more food for
unpleasant reflection, by increasing her esteem and compassion, and her
sense of past injustice towards Miss Fairfax.  She bitterly regretted
not having sought a closer acquaintance with her, and blushed for the
envious feelings which had certainly been, in some measure, the cause.
Had she followed Mr. Knightley's known wishes, in paying that attention
to Miss Fairfax, which was every way her due; had she tried to know her
better; had she done her part towards intimacy; had she endeavoured to
find a friend there instead of in Harriet Smith; she must, in all
probability, have been spared from every pain which pressed on her
now.--Birth, abilities, and education, had been equally marking one as
an associate for her, to be received with gratitude; and the
other--what was she?--Supposing even that they had never become
intimate friends; that she had never been admitted into Miss Fairfax's
confidence on this important matter--which was most probable--still,
in knowing her as she ought, and as she might, she must have been
preserved from the abominable suspicions of an improper attachment to
Mr. Dixon, which she had not only so foolishly fashioned and harboured
herself, but had so unpardonably imparted; an idea which she greatly
feared had been made a subject of material distress to the delicacy of
Jane's feelings, by the levity or carelessness of Frank Churchill's.
Of all the sources of evil surrounding the former, since her coming to
Highbury, she was persuaded that she must herself have been the worst.
She must have been a perpetual enemy.  They never could have been all
three together, without her having stabbed Jane Fairfax's peace in a
thousand instances; and on Box Hill, perhaps, it had been the agony of
a mind that would bear no more.

The evening of this day was very long, and melancholy, at Hartfield.
The weather added what it could of gloom.  A cold stormy rain set in,
and nothing of July appeared but in the trees and shrubs, which the
wind was despoiling, and the length of the day, which only made such
cruel sights the longer visible.

The weather affected Mr. Woodhouse, and he could only be kept tolerably
comfortable by almost ceaseless attention on his daughter's side, and
by exertions which had never cost her half so much before.  It reminded
her of their first forlorn tete-a-tete, on the evening of Mrs. Weston's
wedding-day; but Mr. Knightley had walked in then, soon after tea, and
dissipated every melancholy fancy.  Alas! such delightful proofs of
Hartfield's attraction, as those sort of visits conveyed, might shortly
be over.  The picture which she had then drawn of the privations of the
approaching winter, had proved erroneous; no friends had deserted them,
no pleasures had been lost.--But her present forebodings she feared
would experience no similar contradiction.  The prospect before her
now, was threatening to a degree that could not be entirely dispelled--
that might not be even partially brightened.  If all took place that
might take place among the circle of her friends, Hartfield must be
comparatively deserted; and she left to cheer her father with the
spirits only of ruined happiness.

The child to be born at Randalls must be a tie there even dearer than
herself; and Mrs. Weston's heart and time would be occupied by it.
They should lose her; and, probably, in great measure, her husband
also.--Frank Churchill would return among them no more; and Miss
Fairfax, it was reasonable to suppose, would soon cease to belong to
Highbury.  They would be married, and settled either at or near
Enscombe.  All that were good would be withdrawn; and if to these
losses, the loss of Donwell were to be added, what would remain of
cheerful or of rational society within their reach?  Mr. Knightley to
be no longer coming there for his evening comfort!-- No longer walking
in at all hours, as if ever willing to change his own home for
their's!--How was it to be endured?  And if he were to be lost to them
for Harriet's sake; if he were to be thought of hereafter, as finding
in Harriet's society all that he wanted; if Harriet were to be the
chosen, the first, the dearest, the friend, the wife to whom he looked
for all the best blessings of existence; what could be increasing
Emma's wretchedness but the reflection never far distant from her mind,
that it had been all her own work?

When it came to such a pitch as this, she was not able to refrain from
a start, or a heavy sigh, or even from walking about the room for a few
seconds--and the only source whence any thing like consolation or
composure could be drawn, was in the resolution of her own better
conduct, and the hope that, however inferior in spirit and gaiety might
be the following and every future winter of her life to the past, it
would yet find her more rational, more acquainted with herself, and
leave her less to regret when it were gone.



CHAPTER XIII


The weather continued much the same all the following morning; and the
same loneliness, and the same melancholy, seemed to reign at
Hartfield--but in the afternoon it cleared; the wind changed into a
softer quarter; the clouds were carried off; the sun appeared; it was
summer again.  With all the eagerness which such a transition gives,
Emma resolved to be out of doors as soon as possible.  Never had the
exquisite sight, smell, sensation of nature, tranquil, warm, and
brilliant after a storm, been more attractive to her.  She longed for
the serenity they might gradually introduce; and on Mr. Perry's coming
in soon after dinner, with a disengaged hour to give her father, she
lost no time ill hurrying into the shrubbery.--There, with spirits
freshened, and thoughts a little relieved, she had taken a few turns,
when she saw Mr. Knightley passing through the garden door, and coming
towards her.--It was the first intimation of his being returned from
London.  She had been thinking of him the moment before, as
unquestionably sixteen miles distant.--There was time only for the
quickest arrangement of mind.  She must be collected and calm.  In half
a minute they were together.  The "How d'ye do's" were quiet and
constrained on each side.  She asked after their mutual friends; they
were all well.--When had he left them?--Only that morning.  He must
have had a wet ride.--Yes.--He meant to walk with her, she found.  "He
had just looked into the dining-room, and as he was not wanted there,
preferred being out of doors."--She thought he neither looked nor spoke
cheerfully; and the first possible cause for it, suggested by her
fears, was, that he had perhaps been communicating his plans to his
brother, and was pained by the manner in which they had been received.

They walked together.  He was silent.  She thought he was often looking
at her, and trying for a fuller view of her face than it suited her to
give.  And this belief produced another dread.  Perhaps he wanted to
speak to her, of his attachment to Harriet; he might be watching for
encouragement to begin.--She did not, could not, feel equal to lead the
way to any such subject.  He must do it all himself.  Yet she could not
bear this silence.  With him it was most unnatural.  She
considered--resolved--and, trying to smile, began--

"You have some news to hear, now you are come back, that will rather
surprize you."

"Have I?" said he quietly, and looking at her; "of what nature?"

"Oh! the best nature in the world--a wedding."

After waiting a moment, as if to be sure she intended to say no more,
he replied,

"If you mean Miss Fairfax and Frank Churchill, I have heard that
already."

"How is it possible?" cried Emma, turning her glowing cheeks towards
him; for, while she spoke, it occurred to her that he might have called
at Mrs. Goddard's in his way.

"I had a few lines on parish business from Mr. Weston this morning, and
at the end of them he gave me a brief account of what had happened."

Emma was quite relieved, and could presently say, with a little more
composure,

"_You_ probably have been less surprized than any of us, for you have
had your suspicions.--I have not forgotten that you once tried to give
me a caution.--I wish I had attended to it--but--(with a sinking voice
and a heavy sigh) I seem to have been doomed to blindness."

For a moment or two nothing was said, and she was unsuspicious of
having excited any particular interest, till she found her arm drawn
within his, and pressed against his heart, and heard him thus saying,
in a tone of great sensibility, speaking low,

"Time, my dearest Emma, time will heal the wound.--Your own excellent
sense--your exertions for your father's sake--I know you will not allow
yourself--."  Her arm was pressed again, as he added, in a more broken
and subdued accent, "The feelings of the warmest
friendship--Indignation--Abominable scoundrel!"-- And in a louder,
steadier tone, he concluded with, "He will soon be gone.  They will
soon be in Yorkshire.  I am sorry for _her_.  She deserves a better
fate."

Emma understood him; and as soon as she could recover from the flutter
of pleasure, excited by such tender consideration, replied,

"You are very kind--but you are mistaken--and I must set you right.-- I
am not in want of that sort of compassion.  My blindness to what was
going on, led me to act by them in a way that I must always be ashamed
of, and I was very foolishly tempted to say and do many things which
may well lay me open to unpleasant conjectures, but I have no other
reason to regret that I was not in the secret earlier."

"Emma!" cried he, looking eagerly at her, "are you, indeed?"--but
checking himself--"No, no, I understand you--forgive me--I am pleased
that you can say even so much.--He is no object of regret, indeed! and
it will not be very long, I hope, before that becomes the
acknowledgment of more than your reason.--Fortunate that your
affections were not farther entangled!--I could never, I confess, from
your manners, assure myself as to the degree of what you felt-- I could
only be certain that there was a preference--and a preference which I
never believed him to deserve.--He is a disgrace to the name of
man.--And is he to be rewarded with that sweet young woman?-- Jane,
Jane, you will be a miserable creature."

"Mr. Knightley," said Emma, trying to be lively, but really confused--
"I am in a very extraordinary situation.  I cannot let you continue in
your error; and yet, perhaps, since my manners gave such an impression,
I have as much reason to be ashamed of confessing that I never have
been at all attached to the person we are speaking of, as it might be
natural for a woman to feel in confessing exactly the reverse.-- But I
never have."

He listened in perfect silence.  She wished him to speak, but he would
not.  She supposed she must say more before she were entitled to his
clemency; but it was a hard case to be obliged still to lower herself
in his opinion.  She went on, however.

"I have very little to say for my own conduct.--I was tempted by his
attentions, and allowed myself to appear pleased.-- An old story,
probably--a common case--and no more than has happened to hundreds of
my sex before; and yet it may not be the more excusable in one who sets
up as I do for Understanding.  Many circumstances assisted the
temptation.  He was the son of Mr. Weston--he was continually here--I
always found him very pleasant--and, in short, for (with a sigh) let me
swell out the causes ever so ingeniously, they all centre in this at
last--my vanity was flattered, and I allowed his attentions.  Latterly,
however--for some time, indeed--I have had no idea of their meaning
any thing.--I thought them a habit, a trick, nothing that called for
seriousness on my side.  He has imposed on me, but he has not injured
me.  I have never been attached to him.  And now I can tolerably
comprehend his behaviour.  He never wished to attach me.  It was merely
a blind to conceal his real situation with another.--It was his object
to blind all about him; and no one, I am sure, could be more
effectually blinded than myself--except that I was _not_ blinded--that
it was my good fortune--that, in short, I was somehow or other safe
from him."

She had hoped for an answer here--for a few words to say that her
conduct was at least intelligible; but he was silent; and, as far as
she could judge, deep in thought.  At last, and tolerably in his usual
tone, he said,

"I have never had a high opinion of Frank Churchill.--I can suppose,
however, that I may have underrated him.  My acquaintance with him has
been but trifling.--And even if I have not underrated him hitherto, he
may yet turn out well.--With such a woman he has a chance.--I have no
motive for wishing him ill--and for her sake, whose happiness will be
involved in his good character and conduct, I shall certainly wish him
well."

"I have no doubt of their being happy together," said Emma; "I believe
them to be very mutually and very sincerely attached."

"He is a most fortunate man!" returned Mr. Knightley, with energy.  "So
early in life--at three-and-twenty--a period when, if a man chuses a
wife, he generally chuses ill.  At three-and-twenty to have drawn such
a prize!  What years of felicity that man, in all human calculation,
has before him!--Assured of the love of such a woman--the disinterested
love, for Jane Fairfax's character vouches for her disinterestedness;
every thing in his favour,--equality of situation--I mean, as far as
regards society, and all the habits and manners that are important;
equality in every point but one--and that one, since the purity of her
heart is not to be doubted, such as must increase his felicity, for it
will be his to bestow the only advantages she wants.--A man would
always wish to give a woman a better home than the one he takes her
from; and he who can do it, where there is no doubt of _her_ regard,
must, I think, be the happiest of mortals.--Frank Churchill is, indeed,
the favourite of fortune.  Every thing turns out for his good.--He
meets with a young woman at a watering-place, gains her affection,
cannot even weary her by negligent treatment--and had he and all his
family sought round the world for a perfect wife for him, they could
not have found her superior.--His aunt is in the way.--His aunt
dies.--He has only to speak.--His friends are eager to promote his
happiness.-- He had used every body ill--and they are all delighted to
forgive him.-- He is a fortunate man indeed!"

"You speak as if you envied him."

"And I do envy him, Emma.  In one respect he is the object of my envy."

Emma could say no more.  They seemed to be within half a sentence of
Harriet, and her immediate feeling was to avert the subject, if
possible.  She made her plan; she would speak of something totally
different--the children in Brunswick Square; and she only waited for
breath to begin, when Mr. Knightley startled her, by saying,

"You will not ask me what is the point of envy.--You are determined, I
see, to have no curiosity.--You are wise--but _I_ cannot be wise.
Emma, I must tell you what you will not ask, though I may wish it
unsaid the next moment."

"Oh! then, don't speak it, don't speak it," she eagerly cried.  "Take a
little time, consider, do not commit yourself."

"Thank you," said he, in an accent of deep mortification, and not
another syllable followed.

Emma could not bear to give him pain.  He was wishing to confide in
her--perhaps to consult her;--cost her what it would, she would
listen.  She might assist his resolution, or reconcile him to it; she
might give just praise to Harriet, or, by representing to him his own
independence, relieve him from that state of indecision, which must be
more intolerable than any alternative to such a mind as his.--They had
reached the house.

"You are going in, I suppose?" said he.

"No,"--replied Emma--quite confirmed by the depressed manner in which
he still spoke--"I should like to take another turn.  Mr. Perry is not
gone."  And, after proceeding a few steps, she added-- "I stopped you
ungraciously, just now, Mr. Knightley, and, I am afraid, gave you
pain.--But if you have any wish to speak openly to me as a friend, or
to ask my opinion of any thing that you may have in contemplation--as a
friend, indeed, you may command me.--I will hear whatever you like.  I
will tell you exactly what I think."

"As a friend!"--repeated Mr. Knightley.--"Emma, that I fear is a
word--No, I have no wish--Stay, yes, why should I hesitate?-- I have
gone too far already for concealment.--Emma, I accept your offer--
Extraordinary as it may seem, I accept it, and refer myself to you as a
friend.--Tell me, then, have I no chance of ever succeeding?"

He stopped in his earnestness to look the question, and the expression
of his eyes overpowered her.

"My dearest Emma," said he, "for dearest you will always be, whatever
the event of this hour's conversation, my dearest, most beloved
Emma--tell me at once.  Say 'No,' if it is to be said."-- She could
really say nothing.--"You are silent," he cried, with great animation;
"absolutely silent! at present I ask no more."

Emma was almost ready to sink under the agitation of this moment.  The
dread of being awakened from the happiest dream, was perhaps the most
prominent feeling.

"I cannot make speeches, Emma:"  he soon resumed; and in a tone of such
sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably
convincing.--"If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it
more.  But you know what I am.--You hear nothing but truth from me.--I
have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other
woman in England would have borne it.-- Bear with the truths I would
tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them.  The
manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them.  God knows, I
have been a very indifferent lover.-- But you understand me.--Yes, you
see, you understand my feelings--and will return them if you can.  At
present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice."

While he spoke, Emma's mind was most busy, and, with all the wonderful
velocity of thought, had been able--and yet without losing a word--to
catch and comprehend the exact truth of the whole; to see that
Harriet's hopes had been entirely groundless, a mistake, a delusion, as
complete a delusion as any of her own--that Harriet was nothing; that
she was every thing herself; that what she had been saying relative to
Harriet had been all taken as the language of her own feelings; and
that her agitation, her doubts, her reluctance, her discouragement, had
been all received as discouragement from herself.--And not only was
there time for these convictions, with all their glow of attendant
happiness; there was time also to rejoice that Harriet's secret had not
escaped her, and to resolve that it need not, and should not.--It was
all the service she could now render her poor friend; for as to any of
that heroism of sentiment which might have prompted her to entreat him
to transfer his affection from herself to Harriet, as infinitely the
most worthy of the two--or even the more simple sublimity of resolving
to refuse him at once and for ever, without vouchsafing any motive,
because he could not marry them both, Emma had it not.  She felt for
Harriet, with pain and with contrition; but no flight of generosity run
mad, opposing all that could be probable or reasonable, entered her
brain.  She had led her friend astray, and it would be a reproach to
her for ever; but her judgment was as strong as her feelings, and as
strong as it had ever been before, in reprobating any such alliance for
him, as most unequal and degrading.  Her way was clear, though not
quite smooth.--She spoke then, on being so entreated.-- What did she
say?--Just what she ought, of course.  A lady always does.-- She said
enough to shew there need not be despair--and to invite him to say more
himself.  He _had_ despaired at one period; he had received such an
injunction to caution and silence, as for the time crushed every
hope;--she had begun by refusing to hear him.--The change had perhaps
been somewhat sudden;--her proposal of taking another turn, her
renewing the conversation which she had just put an end to, might be a
little extraordinary!--She felt its inconsistency; but Mr. Knightley
was so obliging as to put up with it, and seek no farther explanation.

Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human
disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little
disguised, or a little mistaken; but where, as in this case, though the
conduct is mistaken, the feelings are not, it may not be very
material.-- Mr. Knightley could not impute to Emma a more relenting
heart than she possessed, or a heart more disposed to accept of his.

He had, in fact, been wholly unsuspicious of his own influence.  He had
followed her into the shrubbery with no idea of trying it.  He had
come, in his anxiety to see how she bore Frank Churchill's engagement,
with no selfish view, no view at all, but of endeavouring, if she
allowed him an opening, to soothe or to counsel her.--The rest had been
the work of the moment, the immediate effect of what he heard, on his
feelings.  The delightful assurance of her total indifference towards
Frank Churchill, of her having a heart completely disengaged from him,
had given birth to the hope, that, in time, he might gain her affection
himself;--but it had been no present hope--he had only, in the
momentary conquest of eagerness over judgment, aspired to be told that
she did not forbid his attempt to attach her.--The superior hopes which
gradually opened were so much the more enchanting.-- The affection,
which he had been asking to be allowed to create, if he could, was
already his!--Within half an hour, he had passed from a thoroughly
distressed state of mind, to something so like perfect happiness, that
it could bear no other name.

_Her_ change was equal.--This one half-hour had given to each the same
precious certainty of being beloved, had cleared from each the same
degree of ignorance, jealousy, or distrust.--On his side, there had
been a long-standing jealousy, old as the arrival, or even the
expectation, of Frank Churchill.--He had been in love with Emma, and
jealous of Frank Churchill, from about the same period, one sentiment
having probably enlightened him as to the other.  It was his jealousy
of Frank Churchill that had taken him from the country.--The Box Hill
party had decided him on going away.  He would save himself from
witnessing again such permitted, encouraged attentions.--He had gone to
learn to be indifferent.-- But he had gone to a wrong place.  There was
too much domestic happiness in his brother's house; woman wore too
amiable a form in it; Isabella was too much like Emma--differing only
in those striking inferiorities, which always brought the other in
brilliancy before him, for much to have been done, even had his time
been longer.--He had stayed on, however, vigorously, day after
day--till this very morning's post had conveyed the history of Jane
Fairfax.--Then, with the gladness which must be felt, nay, which he did
not scruple to feel, having never believed Frank Churchill to be at all
deserving Emma, was there so much fond solicitude, so much keen anxiety
for her, that he could stay no longer.  He had ridden home through the
rain; and had walked up directly after dinner, to see how this sweetest
and best of all creatures, faultless in spite of all her faults, bore
the discovery.

He had found her agitated and low.--Frank Churchill was a villain.-- He
heard her declare that she had never loved him.  Frank Churchill's
character was not desperate.--She was his own Emma, by hand and word,
when they returned into the house; and if he could have thought of
Frank Churchill then, he might have deemed him a very good sort of
fellow.



CHAPTER XIV


What totally different feelings did Emma take back into the house from
what she had brought out!--she had then been only daring to hope for a
little respite of suffering;--she was now in an exquisite flutter of
happiness, and such happiness moreover as she believed must still be
greater when the flutter should have passed away.

They sat down to tea--the same party round the same table--how often
it had been collected!--and how often had her eyes fallen on the same
shrubs in the lawn, and observed the same beautiful effect of the
western sun!--But never in such a state of spirits, never in any thing
like it; and it was with difficulty that she could summon enough of her
usual self to be the attentive lady of the house, or even the attentive
daughter.

Poor Mr. Woodhouse little suspected what was plotting against him in
the breast of that man whom he was so cordially welcoming, and so
anxiously hoping might not have taken cold from his ride.--Could he
have seen the heart, he would have cared very little for the lungs; but
without the most distant imagination of the impending evil, without the
slightest perception of any thing extraordinary in the looks or ways of
either, he repeated to them very comfortably all the articles of news
he had received from Mr. Perry, and talked on with much
self-contentment, totally unsuspicious of what they could have told him
in return.

As long as Mr. Knightley remained with them, Emma's fever continued;
but when he was gone, she began to be a little tranquillised and
subdued--and in the course of the sleepless night, which was the tax
for such an evening, she found one or two such very serious points to
consider, as made her feel, that even her happiness must have some
alloy.  Her father--and Harriet.  She could not be alone without
feeling the full weight of their separate claims; and how to guard the
comfort of both to the utmost, was the question.  With respect to her
father, it was a question soon answered.  She hardly knew yet what Mr.
Knightley would ask; but a very short parley with her own heart
produced the most solemn resolution of never quitting her father.--She
even wept over the idea of it, as a sin of thought.  While he lived, it
must be only an engagement; but she flattered herself, that if divested
of the danger of drawing her away, it might become an increase of
comfort to him.-- How to do her best by Harriet, was of more difficult
decision;--how to spare her from any unnecessary pain; how to make her
any possible atonement; how to appear least her enemy?-- On these
subjects, her perplexity and distress were very great--and her mind
had to pass again and again through every bitter reproach and sorrowful
regret that had ever surrounded it.-- She could only resolve at last,
that she would still avoid a meeting with her, and communicate all that
need be told by letter; that it would be inexpressibly desirable to
have her removed just now for a time from Highbury, and--indulging in
one scheme more--nearly resolve, that it might be practicable to get
an invitation for her to Brunswick Square.--Isabella had been pleased
with Harriet; and a few weeks spent in London must give her some
amusement.-- She did not think it in Harriet's nature to escape being
benefited by novelty and variety, by the streets, the shops, and the
children.-- At any rate, it would be a proof of attention and kindness
in herself, from whom every thing was due; a separation for the
present; an averting of the evil day, when they must all be together
again.

She rose early, and wrote her letter to Harriet; an employment which
left her so very serious, so nearly sad, that Mr. Knightley, in walking
up to Hartfield to breakfast, did not arrive at all too soon; and half
an hour stolen afterwards to go over the same ground again with him,
literally and figuratively, was quite necessary to reinstate her in a
proper share of the happiness of the evening before.

He had not left her long, by no means long enough for her to have the
slightest inclination for thinking of any body else, when a letter was
brought her from Randalls--a very thick letter;--she guessed what it
must contain, and deprecated the necessity of reading it.-- She was now
in perfect charity with Frank Churchill; she wanted no explanations,
she wanted only to have her thoughts to herself--and as for
understanding any thing he wrote, she was sure she was incapable of
it.--It must be waded through, however.  She opened the packet; it was
too surely so;--a note from Mrs. Weston to herself, ushered in the
letter from Frank to Mrs. Weston.

"I have the greatest pleasure, my dear Emma, in forwarding to you the
enclosed.  I know what thorough justice you will do it, and have
scarcely a doubt of its happy effect.--I think we shall never
materially disagree about the writer again; but I will not delay you by
a long preface.--We are quite well.--This letter has been the cure of
all the little nervousness I have been feeling lately.--I did not quite
like your looks on Tuesday, but it was an ungenial morning; and though
you will never own being affected by weather, I think every body feels
a north-east wind.--I felt for your dear father very much in the storm
of Tuesday afternoon and yesterday morning, but had the comfort of
hearing last night, by Mr. Perry, that it had not made him ill.
                              "Yours ever,
                                                       "A. W."

                       [To Mrs. Weston.]
                                                       WINDSOR-JULY.
MY DEAR MADAM,

"If I made myself intelligible yesterday, this letter will be expected;
but expected or not, I know it will be read with candour and
indulgence.--You are all goodness, and I believe there will be need of
even all your goodness to allow for some parts of my past conduct.--
But I have been forgiven by one who had still more to resent.  My
courage rises while I write.  It is very difficult for the prosperous
to be humble.  I have already met with such success in two applications
for pardon, that I may be in danger of thinking myself too sure of
yours, and of those among your friends who have had any ground of
offence.--You must all endeavour to comprehend the exact nature of my
situation when I first arrived at Randalls; you must consider me as
having a secret which was to be kept at all hazards.  This was the
fact.  My right to place myself in a situation requiring such
concealment, is another question.  I shall not discuss it here.  For my
temptation to _think_ it a right, I refer every caviller to a brick
house, sashed windows below, and casements above, in Highbury.  I dared
not address her openly; my difficulties in the then state of Enscombe
must be too well known to require definition; and I was fortunate
enough to prevail, before we parted at Weymouth, and to induce the most
upright female mind in the creation to stoop in charity to a secret
engagement.--Had she refused, I should have gone mad.--But you will be
ready to say, what was your hope in doing this?--What did you look
forward to?--To any thing, every thing--to time, chance, circumstance,
slow effects, sudden bursts, perseverance and weariness, health and
sickness.  Every possibility of good was before me, and the first of
blessings secured, in obtaining her promises of faith and
correspondence.  If you need farther explanation, I have the honour, my
dear madam, of being your husband's son, and the advantage of
inheriting a disposition to hope for good, which no inheritance of
houses or lands can ever equal the value of.--See me, then, under these
circumstances, arriving on my first visit to Randalls;--and here I am
conscious of wrong, for that visit might have been sooner paid.  You
will look back and see that I did not come till Miss Fairfax was in
Highbury; and as _you_ were the person slighted, you will forgive me
instantly; but I must work on my father's compassion, by reminding him,
that so long as I absented myself from his house, so long I lost the
blessing of knowing you.  My behaviour, during the very happy fortnight
which I spent with you, did not, I hope, lay me open to reprehension,
excepting on one point.  And now I come to the principal, the only
important part of my conduct while belonging to you, which excites my
own anxiety, or requires very solicitous explanation.  With the
greatest respect, and the warmest friendship, do I mention Miss
Woodhouse; my father perhaps will think I ought to add, with the
deepest humiliation.-- A few words which dropped from him yesterday
spoke his opinion, and some censure I acknowledge myself liable to.--My
behaviour to Miss Woodhouse indicated, I believe, more than it ought.--
In order to assist a concealment so essential to me, I was led on to
make more than an allowable use of the sort of intimacy into which we
were immediately thrown.--I cannot deny that Miss Woodhouse was my
ostensible object--but I am sure you will believe the declaration, that
had I not been convinced of her indifference, I would not have been
induced by any selfish views to go on.-- Amiable and delightful as Miss
Woodhouse is, she never gave me the idea of a young woman likely to be
attached; and that she was perfectly free from any tendency to being
attached to me, was as much my conviction as my wish.--She received my
attentions with an easy, friendly, goodhumoured playfulness, which
exactly suited me.  We seemed to understand each other.  From our
relative situation, those attentions were her due, and were felt to be
so.--Whether Miss Woodhouse began really to understand me before the
expiration of that fortnight, I cannot say;--when I called to take
leave of her, I remember that I was within a moment of confessing the
truth, and I then fancied she was not without suspicion; but I have no
doubt of her having since detected me, at least in some degree.-- She
may not have surmised the whole, but her quickness must have penetrated
a part.  I cannot doubt it.  You will find, whenever the subject
becomes freed from its present restraints, that it did not take her
wholly by surprize.  She frequently gave me hints of it.  I remember
her telling me at the ball, that I owed Mrs. Elton gratitude for her
attentions to Miss Fairfax.-- I hope this history of my conduct towards
her will be admitted by you and my father as great extenuation of what
you saw amiss.  While you considered me as having sinned against Emma
Woodhouse, I could deserve nothing from either.  Acquit me here, and
procure for me, when it is allowable, the acquittal and good wishes of
that said Emma Woodhouse, whom I regard with so much brotherly
affection, as to long to have her as deeply and as happily in love as
myself.-- Whatever strange things I said or did during that fortnight,
you have now a key to.  My heart was in Highbury, and my business was
to get my body thither as often as might be, and with the least
suspicion.  If you remember any queernesses, set them all to the right
account.-- Of the pianoforte so much talked of, I feel it only
necessary to say, that its being ordered was absolutely unknown to Miss
F--, who would never have allowed me to send it, had any choice been
given her.-- The delicacy of her mind throughout the whole engagement,
my dear madam, is much beyond my power of doing justice to.  You will
soon, I earnestly hope, know her thoroughly yourself.-- No description
can describe her.  She must tell you herself what she is--yet not by
word, for never was there a human creature who would so designedly
suppress her own merit.--Since I began this letter, which will be
longer than I foresaw, I have heard from her.-- She gives a good
account of her own health; but as she never complains, I dare not
depend.  I want to have your opinion of her looks.  I know you will
soon call on her; she is living in dread of the visit.  Perhaps it is
paid already.  Let me hear from you without delay; I am impatient for a
thousand particulars.  Remember how few minutes I was at Randalls, and
in how bewildered, how mad a state: and I am not much better yet; still
insane either from happiness or misery.  When I think of the kindness
and favour I have met with, of her excellence and patience, and my
uncle's generosity, I am mad with joy:  but when I recollect all the
uneasiness I occasioned her, and how little I deserve to be forgiven, I
am mad with anger.  If I could but see her again!--But I must not
propose it yet.  My uncle has been too good for me to encroach.--I must
still add to this long letter.  You have not heard all that you ought
to hear.  I could not give any connected detail yesterday; but the
suddenness, and, in one light, the unseasonableness with which the
affair burst out, needs explanation; for though the event of the 26th
ult., as you will conclude, immediately opened to me the happiest
prospects, I should not have presumed on such early measures, but from
the very particular circumstances, which left me not an hour to lose.
I should myself have shrunk from any thing so hasty, and she would have
felt every scruple of mine with multiplied strength and refinement.--
But I had no choice.  The hasty engagement she had entered into with
that woman--Here, my dear madam, I was obliged to leave off abruptly,
to recollect and compose myself.--I have been walking over the country,
and am now, I hope, rational enough to make the rest of my letter what
it ought to be.--It is, in fact, a most mortifying retrospect for me.
I behaved shamefully.  And here I can admit, that my manners to Miss
W., in being unpleasant to Miss F., were highly blameable.  _She_
disapproved them, which ought to have been enough.--My plea of
concealing the truth she did not think sufficient.--She was displeased;
I thought unreasonably so:  I thought her, on a thousand occasions,
unnecessarily scrupulous and cautious:  I thought her even cold.  But
she was always right.  If I had followed her judgment, and subdued my
spirits to the level of what she deemed proper, I should have escaped
the greatest unhappiness I have ever known.--We quarrelled.-- Do you
remember the morning spent at Donwell?--_There_ every little
dissatisfaction that had occurred before came to a crisis.  I was late;
I met her walking home by herself, and wanted to walk with her, but she
would not suffer it.  She absolutely refused to allow me, which I then
thought most unreasonable.  Now, however, I see nothing in it but a
very natural and consistent degree of discretion.  While I, to blind
the world to our engagement, was behaving one hour with objectionable
particularity to another woman, was she to be consenting the next to a
proposal which might have made every previous caution useless?--Had we
been met walking together between Donwell and Highbury, the truth must
have been suspected.-- I was mad enough, however, to resent.--I doubted
her affection.  I doubted it more the next day on Box Hill; when,
provoked by such conduct on my side, such shameful, insolent neglect of
her, and such apparent devotion to Miss W., as it would have been
impossible for any woman of sense to endure, she spoke her resentment
in a form of words perfectly intelligible to me.-- In short, my dear
madam, it was a quarrel blameless on her side, abominable on mine; and
I returned the same evening to Richmond, though I might have staid with
you till the next morning, merely because I would be as angry with her
as possible.  Even then, I was not such a fool as not to mean to be
reconciled in time; but I was the injured person, injured by her
coldness, and I went away determined that she should make the first
advances.--I shall always congratulate myself that you were not of the
Box Hill party.  Had you witnessed my behaviour there, I can hardly
suppose you would ever have thought well of me again.  Its effect upon
her appears in the immediate resolution it produced:  as soon as she
found I was really gone from Randalls, she closed with the offer of
that officious Mrs. Elton; the whole system of whose treatment of her,
by the bye, has ever filled me with indignation and hatred.  I must not
quarrel with a spirit of forbearance which has been so richly extended
towards myself; but, otherwise, I should loudly protest against the
share of it which that woman has known.-- 'Jane,' indeed!--You will
observe that I have not yet indulged myself in calling her by that
name, even to you.  Think, then, what I must have endured in hearing it
bandied between the Eltons with all the vulgarity of needless
repetition, and all the insolence of imaginary superiority.  Have
patience with me, I shall soon have done.-- She closed with this offer,
resolving to break with me entirely, and wrote the next day to tell me
that we never were to meet again.-- _She_ _felt_ _the_ _engagement_
_to_ _be_ _a_ _source_ _of_ _repentance_ _and_ _misery_ _to_ _each_:
_she_ _dissolved_ _it_.--This letter reached me on the very morning of
my poor aunt's death.  I answered it within an hour; but from the
confusion of my mind, and the multiplicity of business falling on me at
once, my answer, instead of being sent with all the many other letters
of that day, was locked up in my writing-desk; and I, trusting that I
had written enough, though but a few lines, to satisfy her, remained
without any uneasiness.--I was rather disappointed that I did not hear
from her again speedily; but I made excuses for her, and was too busy,
and--may I add?-- too cheerful in my views to be captious.--We removed
to Windsor; and two days afterwards I received a parcel from her, my
own letters all returned!--and a few lines at the same time by the
post, stating her extreme surprize at not having had the smallest reply
to her last; and adding, that as silence on such a point could not be
misconstrued, and as it must be equally desirable to both to have every
subordinate arrangement concluded as soon as possible, she now sent me,
by a safe conveyance, all my letters, and requested, that if I could
not directly command hers, so as to send them to Highbury within a
week, I would forward them after that period to her at--:  in short,
the full direction to Mr. Smallridge's, near Bristol, stared me in the
face.  I knew the name, the place, I knew all about it, and instantly
saw what she had been doing.  It was perfectly accordant with that
resolution of character which I knew her to possess; and the secrecy
she had maintained, as to any such design in her former letter, was
equally descriptive of its anxious delicacy.  For the world would not
she have seemed to threaten me.--Imagine the shock; imagine how, till I
had actually detected my own blunder, I raved at the blunders of the
post.-- What was to be done?--One thing only.--I must speak to my
uncle.  Without his sanction I could not hope to be listened to
again.-- I spoke; circumstances were in my favour; the late event had
softened away his pride, and he was, earlier than I could have
anticipated, wholly reconciled and complying; and could say at last,
poor man!  with a deep sigh, that he wished I might find as much
happiness in the marriage state as he had done.--I felt that it would
be of a different sort.--Are you disposed to pity me for what I must
have suffered in opening the cause to him, for my suspense while all
was at stake?--No; do not pity me till I reached Highbury, and saw how
ill I had made her.  Do not pity me till I saw her wan, sick looks.--I
reached Highbury at the time of day when, from my knowledge of their
late breakfast hour, I was certain of a good chance of finding her
alone.--I was not disappointed; and at last I was not disappointed
either in the object of my journey.  A great deal of very reasonable,
very just displeasure I had to persuade away.  But it is done; we are
reconciled, dearer, much dearer, than ever, and no moment's uneasiness
can ever occur between us again.  Now, my dear madam, I will release
you; but I could not conclude before.  A thousand and a thousand thanks
for all the kindness you have ever shewn me, and ten thousand for the
attentions your heart will dictate towards her.--If you think me in a
way to be happier than I deserve, I am quite of your opinion.--Miss W.
calls me the child of good fortune.  I hope she is right.--In one
respect, my good fortune is undoubted, that of being able to subscribe
myself,
                    Your obliged and affectionate Son,
                                          F. C. WESTON CHURCHILL.



CHAPTER XV


This letter must make its way to Emma's feelings.  She was obliged, in
spite of her previous determination to the contrary, to do it all the
justice that Mrs. Weston foretold.  As soon as she came to her own
name, it was irresistible; every line relating to herself was
interesting, and almost every line agreeable; and when this charm
ceased, the subject could still maintain itself, by the natural return
of her former regard for the writer, and the very strong attraction
which any picture of love must have for her at that moment.  She never
stopt till she had gone through the whole; and though it was impossible
not to feel that he had been wrong, yet he had been less wrong than she
had supposed--and he had suffered, and was very sorry--and he was so
grateful to Mrs. Weston, and so much in love with Miss Fairfax, and she
was so happy herself, that there was no being severe; and could he have
entered the room, she must have shaken hands with him as heartily as
ever.

She thought so well of the letter, that when Mr. Knightley came again,
she desired him to read it.  She was sure of Mrs. Weston's wishing it
to be communicated; especially to one, who, like Mr. Knightley, had
seen so much to blame in his conduct.

"I shall be very glad to look it over," said he; "but it seems long.  I
will take it home with me at night."

But that would not do.  Mr. Weston was to call in the evening, and she
must return it by him.

"I would rather be talking to you," he replied; "but as it seems a
matter of justice, it shall be done."

He began--stopping, however, almost directly to say, "Had I been
offered the sight of one of this gentleman's letters to his
mother-in-law a few months ago, Emma, it would not have been taken with
such indifference."

He proceeded a little farther, reading to himself; and then, with a
smile, observed, "Humph! a fine complimentary opening: But it is his
way.  One man's style must not be the rule of another's.  We will not
be severe."

"It will be natural for me," he added shortly afterwards, "to speak my
opinion aloud as I read.  By doing it, I shall feel that I am near you.
It will not be so great a loss of time:  but if you dislike it--"

"Not at all.  I should wish it."

Mr. Knightley returned to his reading with greater alacrity.

"He trifles here," said he, "as to the temptation.  He knows he is
wrong, and has nothing rational to urge.--Bad.--He ought not to have
formed the engagement.--'His father's disposition:'--he is unjust,
however, to his father.  Mr. Weston's sanguine temper was a blessing on
all his upright and honourable exertions; but Mr. Weston earned every
present comfort before he endeavoured to gain it.--Very true; he did
not come till Miss Fairfax was here."

"And I have not forgotten," said Emma, "how sure you were that he might
have come sooner if he would.  You pass it over very handsomely--but
you were perfectly right."

"I was not quite impartial in my judgment, Emma:--but yet, I think--
had _you_ not been in the case--I should still have distrusted him."

When he came to Miss Woodhouse, he was obliged to read the whole of it
aloud--all that related to her, with a smile; a look; a shake of the
head; a word or two of assent, or disapprobation; or merely of love, as
the subject required; concluding, however, seriously, and, after steady
reflection, thus--

"Very bad--though it might have been worse.--Playing a most dangerous
game.  Too much indebted to the event for his acquittal.-- No judge of
his own manners by you.--Always deceived in fact by his own wishes, and
regardless of little besides his own convenience.-- Fancying you to
have fathomed his secret.  Natural enough!--his own mind full of
intrigue, that he should suspect it in others.--Mystery; Finesse--how
they pervert the understanding!  My Emma, does not every thing serve to
prove more and more the beauty of truth and sincerity in all our
dealings with each other?"

Emma agreed to it, and with a blush of sensibility on Harriet's
account, which she could not give any sincere explanation of.

"You had better go on," said she.

He did so, but very soon stopt again to say, "the pianoforte!  Ah!
That was the act of a very, very young man, one too young to consider
whether the inconvenience of it might not very much exceed the
pleasure.  A boyish scheme, indeed!--I cannot comprehend a man's
wishing to give a woman any proof of affection which he knows she would
rather dispense with; and he did know that she would have prevented the
instrument's coming if she could."

After this, he made some progress without any pause.  Frank Churchill's
confession of having behaved shamefully was the first thing to call for
more than a word in passing.

"I perfectly agree with you, sir,"--was then his remark.  "You did
behave very shamefully.  You never wrote a truer line." And having gone
through what immediately followed of the basis of their disagreement,
and his persisting to act in direct opposition to Jane Fairfax's sense
of right, he made a fuller pause to say, "This is very bad.--He had
induced her to place herself, for his sake, in a situation of extreme
difficulty and uneasiness, and it should have been his first object to
prevent her from suffering unnecessarily.--She must have had much more
to contend with, in carrying on the correspondence, than he could.  He
should have respected even unreasonable scruples, had there been such;
but hers were all reasonable.  We must look to her one fault, and
remember that she had done a wrong thing in consenting to the
engagement, to bear that she should have been in such a state of
punishment."

Emma knew that he was now getting to the Box Hill party, and grew
uncomfortable.  Her own behaviour had been so very improper!  She was
deeply ashamed, and a little afraid of his next look.  It was all read,
however, steadily, attentively, and without the smallest remark; and,
excepting one momentary glance at her, instantly withdrawn, in the fear
of giving pain--no remembrance of Box Hill seemed to exist.

"There is no saying much for the delicacy of our good friends, the
Eltons," was his next observation.--"His feelings are natural.-- What!
actually resolve to break with him entirely!--She felt the engagement
to be a source of repentance and misery to each--she dissolved
it.--What a view this gives of her sense of his behaviour!--Well, he
must be a most extraordinary--"

"Nay, nay, read on.--You will find how very much he suffers."

"I hope he does," replied Mr. Knightley coolly, and resuming the
letter.  "'Smallridge!'--What does this mean?  What is all this?"

"She had engaged to go as governess to Mrs. Smallridge's children--a
dear friend of Mrs. Elton's--a neighbour of Maple Grove; and, by the
bye, I wonder how Mrs. Elton bears the disappointment?"

"Say nothing, my dear Emma, while you oblige me to read--not even of
Mrs. Elton.  Only one page more.  I shall soon have done.  What a
letter the man writes!"

"I wish you would read it with a kinder spirit towards him."

"Well, there _is_ feeling here.--He does seem to have suffered in
finding her ill.--Certainly, I can have no doubt of his being fond of
her.  'Dearer, much dearer than ever.'  I hope he may long continue to
feel all the value of such a reconciliation.--He is a very liberal
thanker, with his thousands and tens of thousands.--'Happier than I
deserve.' Come, he knows himself there.  'Miss Woodhouse calls me the
child of good fortune.'--Those were Miss Woodhouse's words, were
they?-- And a fine ending--and there is the letter.  The child of good
fortune!  That was your name for him, was it?"

"You do not appear so well satisfied with his letter as I am; but still
you must, at least I hope you must, think the better of him for it.  I
hope it does him some service with you."

"Yes, certainly it does.  He has had great faults, faults of
inconsideration and thoughtlessness; and I am very much of his opinion
in thinking him likely to be happier than he deserves: but still as he
is, beyond a doubt, really attached to Miss Fairfax, and will soon, it
may be hoped, have the advantage of being constantly with her, I am
very ready to believe his character will improve, and acquire from hers
the steadiness and delicacy of principle that it wants.  And now, let
me talk to you of something else.  I have another person's interest at
present so much at heart, that I cannot think any longer about Frank
Churchill.  Ever since I left you this morning, Emma, my mind has been
hard at work on one subject."

The subject followed; it was in plain, unaffected, gentlemanlike
English, such as Mr. Knightley used even to the woman he was in love
with, how to be able to ask her to marry him, without attacking the
happiness of her father.  Emma's answer was ready at the first word.
"While her dear father lived, any change of condition must be
impossible for her.  She could never quit him."  Part only of this
answer, however, was admitted.  The impossibility of her quitting her
father, Mr. Knightley felt as strongly as herself; but the
inadmissibility of any other change, he could not agree to.  He had
been thinking it over most deeply, most intently; he had at first hoped
to induce Mr. Woodhouse to remove with her to Donwell; he had wanted to
believe it feasible, but his knowledge of Mr. Woodhouse would not
suffer him to deceive himself long; and now he confessed his
persuasion, that such a transplantation would be a risk of her father's
comfort, perhaps even of his life, which must not be hazarded.  Mr.
Woodhouse taken from Hartfield!--No, he felt that it ought not to be
attempted.  But the plan which had arisen on the sacrifice of this, he
trusted his dearest Emma would not find in any respect objectionable;
it was, that he should be received at Hartfield; that so long as her
father's happiness in other words his life--required Hartfield to
continue her home, it should be his likewise.

Of their all removing to Donwell, Emma had already had her own passing
thoughts.  Like him, she had tried the scheme and rejected it; but such
an alternative as this had not occurred to her.  She was sensible of
all the affection it evinced.  She felt that, in quitting Donwell, he
must be sacrificing a great deal of independence of hours and habits;
that in living constantly with her father, and in no house of his own,
there would be much, very much, to be borne with.  She promised to
think of it, and advised him to think of it more; but he was fully
convinced, that no reflection could alter his wishes or his opinion on
the subject.  He had given it, he could assure her, very long and calm
consideration; he had been walking away from William Larkins the whole
morning, to have his thoughts to himself.

"Ah! there is one difficulty unprovided for," cried Emma.  "I am sure
William Larkins will not like it.  You must get his consent before you
ask mine."

She promised, however, to think of it; and pretty nearly promised,
moreover, to think of it, with the intention of finding it a very good
scheme.

It is remarkable, that Emma, in the many, very many, points of view in
which she was now beginning to consider Donwell Abbey, was never struck
with any sense of injury to her nephew Henry, whose rights as
heir-expectant had formerly been so tenaciously regarded.  Think she
must of the possible difference to the poor little boy; and yet she
only gave herself a saucy conscious smile about it, and found amusement
in detecting the real cause of that violent dislike of Mr. Knightley's
marrying Jane Fairfax, or any body else, which at the time she had
wholly imputed to the amiable solicitude of the sister and the aunt.

This proposal of his, this plan of marrying and continuing at
Hartfield--the more she contemplated it, the more pleasing it became.
His evils seemed to lessen, her own advantages to increase, their
mutual good to outweigh every drawback.  Such a companion for herself
in the periods of anxiety and cheerlessness before her!-- Such a
partner in all those duties and cares to which time must be giving
increase of melancholy!

She would have been too happy but for poor Harriet; but every blessing
of her own seemed to involve and advance the sufferings of her friend,
who must now be even excluded from Hartfield.  The delightful family
party which Emma was securing for herself, poor Harriet must, in mere
charitable caution, be kept at a distance from.  She would be a loser
in every way.  Emma could not deplore her future absence as any
deduction from her own enjoyment.  In such a party, Harriet would be
rather a dead weight than otherwise; but for the poor girl herself, it
seemed a peculiarly cruel necessity that was to be placing her in such
a state of unmerited punishment.

In time, of course, Mr. Knightley would be forgotten, that is,
supplanted; but this could not be expected to happen very early.  Mr.
Knightley himself would be doing nothing to assist the cure;--not like
Mr. Elton.  Mr. Knightley, always so kind, so feeling, so truly
considerate for every body, would never deserve to be less worshipped
than now; and it really was too much to hope even of Harriet, that she
could be in love with more than _three_ men in one year.



CHAPTER XVI


It was a very great relief to Emma to find Harriet as desirous as
herself to avoid a meeting.  Their intercourse was painful enough by
letter.  How much worse, had they been obliged to meet!

Harriet expressed herself very much as might be supposed, without
reproaches, or apparent sense of ill-usage; and yet Emma fancied there
was a something of resentment, a something bordering on it in her
style, which increased the desirableness of their being separate.-- It
might be only her own consciousness; but it seemed as if an angel only
could have been quite without resentment under such a stroke.

She had no difficulty in procuring Isabella's invitation; and she was
fortunate in having a sufficient reason for asking it, without
resorting to invention.--There was a tooth amiss.  Harriet really
wished, and had wished some time, to consult a dentist.  Mrs. John
Knightley was delighted to be of use; any thing of ill health was a
recommendation to her--and though not so fond of a dentist as of a Mr.
Wingfield, she was quite eager to have Harriet under her care.--When it
was thus settled on her sister's side, Emma proposed it to her friend,
and found her very persuadable.-- Harriet was to go; she was invited
for at least a fortnight; she was to be conveyed in Mr. Woodhouse's
carriage.--It was all arranged, it was all completed, and Harriet was
safe in Brunswick Square.

Now Emma could, indeed, enjoy Mr. Knightley's visits; now she could
talk, and she could listen with true happiness, unchecked by that sense
of injustice, of guilt, of something most painful, which had haunted
her when remembering how disappointed a heart was near her, how much
might at that moment, and at a little distance, be enduring by the
feelings which she had led astray herself.

The difference of Harriet at Mrs. Goddard's, or in London, made perhaps
an unreasonable difference in Emma's sensations; but she could not
think of her in London without objects of curiosity and employment,
which must be averting the past, and carrying her out of herself.

She would not allow any other anxiety to succeed directly to the place
in her mind which Harriet had occupied.  There was a communication
before her, one which _she_ only could be competent to make--the
confession of her engagement to her father; but she would have nothing
to do with it at present.--She had resolved to defer the disclosure
till Mrs. Weston were safe and well.  No additional agitation should be
thrown at this period among those she loved--and the evil should not
act on herself by anticipation before the appointed time.--A fortnight,
at least, of leisure and peace of mind, to crown every warmer, but more
agitating, delight, should be hers.

She soon resolved, equally as a duty and a pleasure, to employ half an
hour of this holiday of spirits in calling on Miss Fairfax.-- She ought
to go--and she was longing to see her; the resemblance of their present
situations increasing every other motive of goodwill.  It would be a
_secret_ satisfaction; but the consciousness of a similarity of
prospect would certainly add to the interest with which she should
attend to any thing Jane might communicate.

She went--she had driven once unsuccessfully to the door, but had not
been into the house since the morning after Box Hill, when poor Jane
had been in such distress as had filled her with compassion, though all
the worst of her sufferings had been unsuspected.-- The fear of being
still unwelcome, determined her, though assured of their being at home,
to wait in the passage, and send up her name.-- She heard Patty
announcing it; but no such bustle succeeded as poor Miss Bates had
before made so happily intelligible.--No; she heard nothing but the
instant reply of, "Beg her to walk up;"--and a moment afterwards she
was met on the stairs by Jane herself, coming eagerly forward, as if no
other reception of her were felt sufficient.-- Emma had never seen her
look so well, so lovely, so engaging.  There was consciousness,
animation, and warmth; there was every thing which her countenance or
manner could ever have wanted.-- She came forward with an offered hand;
and said, in a low, but very feeling tone,

"This is most kind, indeed!--Miss Woodhouse, it is impossible for me to
express--I hope you will believe--Excuse me for being so entirely
without words."

Emma was gratified, and would soon have shewn no want of words, if the
sound of Mrs. Elton's voice from the sitting-room had not checked her,
and made it expedient to compress all her friendly and all her
congratulatory sensations into a very, very earnest shake of the hand.

Mrs. Bates and Mrs. Elton were together.  Miss Bates was out, which
accounted for the previous tranquillity.  Emma could have wished Mrs.
Elton elsewhere; but she was in a humour to have patience with every
body; and as Mrs. Elton met her with unusual graciousness, she hoped
the rencontre would do them no harm.

She soon believed herself to penetrate Mrs. Elton's thoughts, and
understand why she was, like herself, in happy spirits; it was being in
Miss Fairfax's confidence, and fancying herself acquainted with what
was still a secret to other people.  Emma saw symptoms of it
immediately in the expression of her face; and while paying her own
compliments to Mrs. Bates, and appearing to attend to the good old
lady's replies, she saw her with a sort of anxious parade of mystery
fold up a letter which she had apparently been reading aloud to Miss
Fairfax, and return it into the purple and gold reticule by her side,
saying, with significant nods,

"We can finish this some other time, you know.  You and I shall not
want opportunities.  And, in fact, you have heard all the essential
already.  I only wanted to prove to you that Mrs. S. admits our
apology, and is not offended.  You see how delightfully she writes.
Oh! she is a sweet creature!  You would have doated on her, had you
gone.--But not a word more.  Let us be discreet--quite on our good
behaviour.--Hush!--You remember those lines-- I forget the poem at this
moment:

        "For when a lady's in the case,
        "You know all other things give place."

Now I say, my dear, in _our_ case, for _lady_, read----mum! a word to
the wise.--I am in a fine flow of spirits, an't I?  But I want to set
your heart at ease as to Mrs. S.--_My_ representation, you see, has
quite appeased her."

And again, on Emma's merely turning her head to look at Mrs. Bates's
knitting, she added, in a half whisper,

"I mentioned no _names_, you will observe.--Oh! no; cautious as a
minister of state.  I managed it extremely well."

Emma could not doubt.  It was a palpable display, repeated on every
possible occasion.  When they had all talked a little while in harmony
of the weather and Mrs. Weston, she found herself abruptly addressed
with,

"Do not you think, Miss Woodhouse, our saucy little friend here is
charmingly recovered?--Do not you think her cure does Perry the highest
credit?--(here was a side-glance of great meaning at Jane.) Upon my
word, Perry has restored her in a wonderful short time!-- Oh! if you
had seen her, as I did, when she was at the worst!"-- And when Mrs.
Bates was saying something to Emma, whispered farther, "We do not say a
word of any _assistance_ that Perry might have; not a word of a certain
young physician from Windsor.--Oh! no; Perry shall have all the credit."

"I have scarce had the pleasure of seeing you, Miss Woodhouse," she
shortly afterwards began, "since the party to Box Hill.  Very pleasant
party.  But yet I think there was something wanting.  Things did not
seem--that is, there seemed a little cloud upon the spirits of
some.--So it appeared to me at least, but I might be mistaken.
However, I think it answered so far as to tempt one to go again.  What
say you both to our collecting the same party, and exploring to Box
Hill again, while the fine weather lasts?-- It must be the same party,
you know, quite the same party, not _one_ exception."

Soon after this Miss Bates came in, and Emma could not help being
diverted by the perplexity of her first answer to herself, resulting,
she supposed, from doubt of what might be said, and impatience to say
every thing.

"Thank you, dear Miss Woodhouse, you are all kindness.--It is
impossible to say--Yes, indeed, I quite understand--dearest Jane's
prospects--that is, I do not mean.--But she is charmingly recovered.--
How is Mr. Woodhouse?--I am so glad.--Quite out of my power.-- Such a
happy little circle as you find us here.--Yes, indeed.-- Charming young
man!--that is--so very friendly; I mean good Mr. Perry!--such
attention to Jane!"--And from her great, her more than commonly
thankful delight towards Mrs. Elton for being there, Emma guessed that
there had been a little show of resentment towards Jane, from the
vicarage quarter, which was now graciously overcome.-- After a few
whispers, indeed, which placed it beyond a guess, Mrs. Elton, speaking
louder, said,

"Yes, here I am, my good friend; and here I have been so long, that
anywhere else I should think it necessary to apologise; but, the truth
is, that I am waiting for my lord and master.  He promised to join me
here, and pay his respects to you."

"What! are we to have the pleasure of a call from Mr. Elton?-- That
will be a favour indeed! for I know gentlemen do not like morning
visits, and Mr. Elton's time is so engaged."

"Upon my word it is, Miss Bates.--He really is engaged from morning to
night.--There is no end of people's coming to him, on some pretence or
other.--The magistrates, and overseers, and churchwardens, are always
wanting his opinion.  They seem not able to do any thing without
him.--'Upon my word, Mr. E.,' I often say, 'rather you than I.-- I do
not know what would become of my crayons and my instrument, if I had
half so many applicants.'--Bad enough as it is, for I absolutely
neglect them both to an unpardonable degree.--I believe I have not
played a bar this fortnight.--However, he is coming, I assure you:
yes, indeed, on purpose to wait on you all."  And putting up her hand
to screen her words from Emma--"A congratulatory visit, you know.--Oh!
yes, quite indispensable."

Miss Bates looked about her, so happily!--

"He promised to come to me as soon as he could disengage himself from
Knightley; but he and Knightley are shut up together in deep
consultation.--Mr. E. is Knightley's right hand."

Emma would not have smiled for the world, and only said, "Is Mr. Elton
gone on foot to Donwell?--He will have a hot walk."

"Oh! no, it is a meeting at the Crown, a regular meeting.  Weston and
Cole will be there too; but one is apt to speak only of those who
lead.--I fancy Mr. E. and Knightley have every thing their own way."

"Have not you mistaken the day?" said Emma.  "I am almost certain that
the meeting at the Crown is not till to-morrow.--Mr. Knightley was at
Hartfield yesterday, and spoke of it as for Saturday."

"Oh! no, the meeting is certainly to-day," was the abrupt answer, which
denoted the impossibility of any blunder on Mrs. Elton's side.-- "I do
believe," she continued, "this is the most troublesome parish that ever
was.  We never heard of such things at Maple Grove."

"Your parish there was small," said Jane.

"Upon my word, my dear, I do not know, for I never heard the subject
talked of."

"But it is proved by the smallness of the school, which I have heard
you speak of, as under the patronage of your sister and Mrs. Bragge;
the only school, and not more than five-and-twenty children."

"Ah! you clever creature, that's very true.  What a thinking brain you
have!  I say, Jane, what a perfect character you and I should make, if
we could be shaken together.  My liveliness and your solidity would
produce perfection.--Not that I presume to insinuate, however, that
_some_ people may not think _you_ perfection already.--But hush!--not
a word, if you please."

It seemed an unnecessary caution; Jane was wanting to give her words,
not to Mrs. Elton, but to Miss Woodhouse, as the latter plainly saw.
The wish of distinguishing her, as far as civility permitted, was very
evident, though it could not often proceed beyond a look.

Mr. Elton made his appearance.  His lady greeted him with some of her
sparkling vivacity.

"Very pretty, sir, upon my word; to send me on here, to be an
encumbrance to my friends, so long before you vouchsafe to come!-- But
you knew what a dutiful creature you had to deal with.  You knew I
should not stir till my lord and master appeared.-- Here have I been
sitting this hour, giving these young ladies a sample of true conjugal
obedience--for who can say, you know, how soon it may be wanted?"

Mr. Elton was so hot and tired, that all this wit seemed thrown away.
His civilities to the other ladies must be paid; but his subsequent
object was to lament over himself for the heat he was suffering, and
the walk he had had for nothing.

"When I got to Donwell," said he, "Knightley could not be found.  Very
odd! very unaccountable! after the note I sent him this morning, and
the message he returned, that he should certainly be at home till one."

"Donwell!" cried his wife.--"My dear Mr. E., you have not been to
Donwell!--You mean the Crown; you come from the meeting at the Crown."

"No, no, that's to-morrow; and I particularly wanted to see Knightley
to-day on that very account.--Such a dreadful broiling morning!-- I
went over the fields too--(speaking in a tone of great ill-usage,)
which made it so much the worse.  And then not to find him at home!  I
assure you I am not at all pleased.  And no apology left, no message
for me.  The housekeeper declared she knew nothing of my being
expected.-- Very extraordinary!--And nobody knew at all which way he
was gone.  Perhaps to Hartfield, perhaps to the Abbey Mill, perhaps
into his woods.-- Miss Woodhouse, this is not like our friend
Knightley!--Can you explain it?"

Emma amused herself by protesting that it was very extraordinary,
indeed, and that she had not a syllable to say for him.

"I cannot imagine," said Mrs. Elton, (feeling the indignity as a wife
ought to do,) "I cannot imagine how he could do such a thing by you, of
all people in the world!  The very last person whom one should expect
to be forgotten!--My dear Mr. E., he must have left a message for you,
I am sure he must.--Not even Knightley could be so very eccentric;--
and his servants forgot it.  Depend upon it, that was the case: and
very likely to happen with the Donwell servants, who are all, I have
often observed, extremely awkward and remiss.--I am sure I would not
have such a creature as his Harry stand at our sideboard for any
consideration.  And as for Mrs. Hodges, Wright holds her very cheap
indeed.--She promised Wright a receipt, and never sent it."

"I met William Larkins," continued Mr. Elton, "as I got near the house,
and he told me I should not find his master at home, but I did not
believe him.--William seemed rather out of humour.  He did not know
what was come to his master lately, he said, but he could hardly ever
get the speech of him.  I have nothing to do with William's wants, but
it really is of very great importance that _I_ should see Knightley
to-day; and it becomes a matter, therefore, of very serious
inconvenience that I should have had this hot walk to no purpose."

Emma felt that she could not do better than go home directly.  In all
probability she was at this very time waited for there; and Mr.
Knightley might be preserved from sinking deeper in aggression towards
Mr. Elton, if not towards William Larkins.

She was pleased, on taking leave, to find Miss Fairfax determined to
attend her out of the room, to go with her even downstairs; it gave her
an opportunity which she immediately made use of, to say,

"It is as well, perhaps, that I have not had the possibility.  Had you
not been surrounded by other friends, I might have been tempted to
introduce a subject, to ask questions, to speak more openly than might
have been strictly correct.--I feel that I should certainly have been
impertinent."

"Oh!" cried Jane, with a blush and an hesitation which Emma thought
infinitely more becoming to her than all the elegance of all her usual
composure--"there would have been no danger.  The danger would have
been of my wearying you.  You could not have gratified me more than by
expressing an interest--.  Indeed, Miss Woodhouse, (speaking more
collectedly,) with the consciousness which I have of misconduct, very
great misconduct, it is particularly consoling to me to know that those
of my friends, whose good opinion is most worth preserving, are not
disgusted to such a degree as to--I have not time for half that I could
wish to say.  I long to make apologies, excuses, to urge something for
myself.  I feel it so very due.  But, unfortunately--in short, if your
compassion does not stand my friend--"

"Oh! you are too scrupulous, indeed you are," cried Emma warmly, and
taking her hand.  "You owe me no apologies; and every body to whom you
might be supposed to owe them, is so perfectly satisfied, so delighted
even--"

"You are very kind, but I know what my manners were to you.-- So cold
and artificial!--I had always a part to act.--It was a life of
deceit!--I know that I must have disgusted you."

"Pray say no more.  I feel that all the apologies should be on my side.
Let us forgive each other at once.  We must do whatever is to be done
quickest, and I think our feelings will lose no time there.  I hope you
have pleasant accounts from Windsor?"

"Very."

"And the next news, I suppose, will be, that we are to lose you--just
as I begin to know you."

"Oh! as to all that, of course nothing can be thought of yet.  I am
here till claimed by Colonel and Mrs. Campbell."

"Nothing can be actually settled yet, perhaps," replied Emma,
smiling--"but, excuse me, it must be thought of."

The smile was returned as Jane answered,

"You are very right; it has been thought of.  And I will own to you, (I
am sure it will be safe), that so far as our living with Mr. Churchill
at Enscombe, it is settled.  There must be three months, at least, of
deep mourning; but when they are over, I imagine there will be nothing
more to wait for."

"Thank you, thank you.--This is just what I wanted to be assured of.--
Oh! if you knew how much I love every thing that is decided and open!--
Good-bye, good-bye."



CHAPTER XVII


Mrs. Weston's friends were all made happy by her safety; and if the
satisfaction of her well-doing could be increased to Emma, it was by
knowing her to be the mother of a little girl.  She had been decided in
wishing for a Miss Weston.  She would not acknowledge that it was with
any view of making a match for her, hereafter, with either of
Isabella's sons; but she was convinced that a daughter would suit both
father and mother best.  It would be a great comfort to Mr. Weston, as
he grew older--and even Mr. Weston might be growing older ten years
hence--to have his fireside enlivened by the sports and the nonsense,
the freaks and the fancies of a child never banished from home; and
Mrs. Weston--no one could doubt that a daughter would be most to her;
and it would be quite a pity that any one who so well knew how to
teach, should not have their powers in exercise again.

"She has had the advantage, you know, of practising on me," she
continued--"like La Baronne d'Almane on La Comtesse d'Ostalis, in
Madame de Genlis' Adelaide and Theodore, and we shall now see her own
little Adelaide educated on a more perfect plan."

"That is," replied Mr. Knightley, "she will indulge her even more than
she did you, and believe that she does not indulge her at all.  It will
be the only difference."

"Poor child!" cried Emma; "at that rate, what will become of her?"

"Nothing very bad.--The fate of thousands.  She will be disagreeable in
infancy, and correct herself as she grows older.  I am losing all my
bitterness against spoilt children, my dearest Emma.  I, who am owing
all my happiness to _you_, would not it be horrible ingratitude in me
to be severe on them?"

Emma laughed, and replied:  "But I had the assistance of all your
endeavours to counteract the indulgence of other people.  I doubt
whether my own sense would have corrected me without it."

"Do you?--I have no doubt.  Nature gave you understanding:-- Miss
Taylor gave you principles.  You must have done well.  My interference
was quite as likely to do harm as good.  It was very natural for you to
say, what right has he to lecture me?--and I am afraid very natural
for you to feel that it was done in a disagreeable manner.  I do not
believe I did you any good.  The good was all to myself, by making you
an object of the tenderest affection to me.  I could not think about
you so much without doating on you, faults and all; and by dint of
fancying so many errors, have been in love with you ever since you were
thirteen at least."

"I am sure you were of use to me," cried Emma.  "I was very often
influenced rightly by you--oftener than I would own at the time.  I am
very sure you did me good.  And if poor little Anna Weston is to be
spoiled, it will be the greatest humanity in you to do as much for her
as you have done for me, except falling in love with her when she is
thirteen."

"How often, when you were a girl, have you said to me, with one of your
saucy looks--'Mr. Knightley, I am going to do so-and-so; papa says I
may, or I have Miss Taylor's leave'--something which, you knew, I did
not approve.  In such cases my interference was giving you two bad
feelings instead of one."

"What an amiable creature I was!--No wonder you should hold my speeches
in such affectionate remembrance."

"'Mr. Knightley.'--You always called me, 'Mr. Knightley;' and, from
habit, it has not so very formal a sound.--And yet it is formal.  I
want you to call me something else, but I do not know what."

"I remember once calling you 'George,' in one of my amiable fits, about
ten years ago.  I did it because I thought it would offend you; but, as
you made no objection, I never did it again."

"And cannot you call me 'George' now?"

"Impossible!--I never can call you any thing but 'Mr. Knightley.' I
will not promise even to equal the elegant terseness of Mrs. Elton, by
calling you Mr. K.--But I will promise," she added presently, laughing
and blushing--"I will promise to call you once by your Christian name.
I do not say when, but perhaps you may guess where;--in the building in
which N. takes M. for better, for worse."

Emma grieved that she could not be more openly just to one important
service which his better sense would have rendered her, to the advice
which would have saved her from the worst of all her womanly
follies--her wilful intimacy with Harriet Smith; but it was too tender
a subject.--She could not enter on it.-- Harriet was very seldom
mentioned between them.  This, on his side, might merely proceed from
her not being thought of; but Emma was rather inclined to attribute it
to delicacy, and a suspicion, from some appearances, that their
friendship were declining.  She was aware herself, that, parting under
any other circumstances, they certainly should have corresponded more,
and that her intelligence would not have rested, as it now almost
wholly did, on Isabella's letters.  He might observe that it was so.
The pain of being obliged to practise concealment towards him, was very
little inferior to the pain of having made Harriet unhappy.

Isabella sent quite as good an account of her visitor as could be
expected; on her first arrival she had thought her out of spirits,
which appeared perfectly natural, as there was a dentist to be
consulted; but, since that business had been over, she did not appear
to find Harriet different from what she had known her before.--
Isabella, to be sure, was no very quick observer; yet if Harriet had
not been equal to playing with the children, it would not have escaped
her.  Emma's comforts and hopes were most agreeably carried on, by
Harriet's being to stay longer; her fortnight was likely to be a month
at least.  Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley were to come down in August, and
she was invited to remain till they could bring her back.

"John does not even mention your friend," said Mr. Knightley.  "Here is
his answer, if you like to see it."

It was the answer to the communication of his intended marriage.  Emma
accepted it with a very eager hand, with an impatience all alive to
know what he would say about it, and not at all checked by hearing that
her friend was unmentioned.

"John enters like a brother into my happiness," continued Mr.
Knightley, "but he is no complimenter; and though I well know him to
have, likewise, a most brotherly affection for you, he is so far from
making flourishes, that any other young woman might think him rather
cool in her praise.  But I am not afraid of your seeing what he writes."

"He writes like a sensible man," replied Emma, when she had read the
letter.  "I honour his sincerity.  It is very plain that he considers
the good fortune of the engagement as all on my side, but that he is
not without hope of my growing, in time, as worthy of your affection,
as you think me already.  Had he said any thing to bear a different
construction, I should not have believed him."

"My Emma, he means no such thing.  He only means--"

"He and I should differ very little in our estimation of the two,"
interrupted she, with a sort of serious smile--"much less, perhaps,
than he is aware of, if we could enter without ceremony or reserve on
the subject."

"Emma, my dear Emma--"

"Oh!" she cried with more thorough gaiety, "if you fancy your brother
does not do me justice, only wait till my dear father is in the secret,
and hear his opinion.  Depend upon it, he will be much farther from
doing _you_ justice.  He will think all the happiness, all the
advantage, on your side of the question; all the merit on mine.  I wish
I may not sink into 'poor Emma' with him at once.-- His tender
compassion towards oppressed worth can go no farther."

"Ah!" he cried, "I wish your father might be half as easily convinced
as John will be, of our having every right that equal worth can give,
to be happy together.  I am amused by one part of John's letter--did
you notice it?--where he says, that my information did not take him
wholly by surprize, that he was rather in expectation of hearing
something of the kind."

"If I understand your brother, he only means so far as your having some
thoughts of marrying.  He had no idea of me.  He seems perfectly
unprepared for that."

"Yes, yes--but I am amused that he should have seen so far into my
feelings.  What has he been judging by?--I am not conscious of any
difference in my spirits or conversation that could prepare him at this
time for my marrying any more than at another.-- But it was so, I
suppose.  I dare say there was a difference when I was staying with
them the other day.  I believe I did not play with the children quite
so much as usual.  I remember one evening the poor boys saying, 'Uncle
seems always tired now.'"

The time was coming when the news must spread farther, and other
persons' reception of it tried.  As soon as Mrs. Weston was
sufficiently recovered to admit Mr. Woodhouse's visits, Emma having it
in view that her gentle reasonings should be employed in the cause,
resolved first to announce it at home, and then at Randalls.-- But how
to break it to her father at last!--She had bound herself to do it, in
such an hour of Mr. Knightley's absence, or when it came to the point
her heart would have failed her, and she must have put it off; but Mr.
Knightley was to come at such a time, and follow up the beginning she
was to make.--She was forced to speak, and to speak cheerfully too.
She must not make it a more decided subject of misery to him, by a
melancholy tone herself.  She must not appear to think it a
misfortune.--With all the spirits she could command, she prepared him
first for something strange, and then, in a few words, said, that if
his consent and approbation could be obtained--which, she trusted,
would be attended with no difficulty, since it was a plan to promote
the happiness of all--she and Mr. Knightley meant to marry; by which
means Hartfield would receive the constant addition of that person's
company whom she knew he loved, next to his daughters and Mrs. Weston,
best in the world.

Poor man!--it was at first a considerable shock to him, and he tried
earnestly to dissuade her from it.  She was reminded, more than once,
of having always said she would never marry, and assured that it would
be a great deal better for her to remain single; and told of poor
Isabella, and poor Miss Taylor.--But it would not do.  Emma hung about
him affectionately, and smiled, and said it must be so; and that he
must not class her with Isabella and Mrs. Weston, whose marriages
taking them from Hartfield, had, indeed, made a melancholy change: but
she was not going from Hartfield; she should be always there; she was
introducing no change in their numbers or their comforts but for the
better; and she was very sure that he would be a great deal the happier
for having Mr. Knightley always at hand, when he were once got used to
the idea.--Did he not love Mr. Knightley very much?-- He would not deny
that he did, she was sure.--Whom did he ever want to consult on
business but Mr. Knightley?--Who was so useful to him, who so ready to
write his letters, who so glad to assist him?-- Who so cheerful, so
attentive, so attached to him?--Would not he like to have him always on
the spot?--Yes.  That was all very true.  Mr. Knightley could not be
there too often; he should be glad to see him every day;--but they did
see him every day as it was.--Why could not they go on as they had done?

Mr. Woodhouse could not be soon reconciled; but the worst was overcome,
the idea was given; time and continual repetition must do the rest.--
To Emma's entreaties and assurances succeeded Mr. Knightley's, whose
fond praise of her gave the subject even a kind of welcome; and he was
soon used to be talked to by each, on every fair occasion.-- They had
all the assistance which Isabella could give, by letters of the
strongest approbation; and Mrs. Weston was ready, on the first meeting,
to consider the subject in the most serviceable light--first, as a
settled, and, secondly, as a good one--well aware of the nearly equal
importance of the two recommendations to Mr. Woodhouse's mind.--It was
agreed upon, as what was to be; and every body by whom he was used to
be guided assuring him that it would be for his happiness; and having
some feelings himself which almost admitted it, he began to think that
some time or other--in another year or two, perhaps--it might not be
so very bad if the marriage did take place.

Mrs. Weston was acting no part, feigning no feelings in all that she
said to him in favour of the event.--She had been extremely surprized,
never more so, than when Emma first opened the affair to her; but she
saw in it only increase of happiness to all, and had no scruple in
urging him to the utmost.--She had such a regard for Mr. Knightley, as
to think he deserved even her dearest Emma; and it was in every respect
so proper, suitable, and unexceptionable a connexion, and in one
respect, one point of the highest importance, so peculiarly eligible,
so singularly fortunate, that now it seemed as if Emma could not safely
have attached herself to any other creature, and that she had herself
been the stupidest of beings in not having thought of it, and wished it
long ago.--How very few of those men in a rank of life to address Emma
would have renounced their own home for Hartfield!  And who but Mr.
Knightley could know and bear with Mr. Woodhouse, so as to make such an
arrangement desirable!-- The difficulty of disposing of poor Mr.
Woodhouse had been always felt in her husband's plans and her own, for
a marriage between Frank and Emma.  How to settle the claims of
Enscombe and Hartfield had been a continual impediment--less
acknowledged by Mr. Weston than by herself--but even he had never been
able to finish the subject better than by saying--"Those matters will
take care of themselves; the young people will find a way."  But here
there was nothing to be shifted off in a wild speculation on the
future.  It was all right, all open, all equal.  No sacrifice on any
side worth the name.  It was a union of the highest promise of felicity
in itself, and without one real, rational difficulty to oppose or delay
it.

Mrs. Weston, with her baby on her knee, indulging in such reflections
as these, was one of the happiest women in the world.  If any thing
could increase her delight, it was perceiving that the baby would soon
have outgrown its first set of caps.

The news was universally a surprize wherever it spread; and Mr. Weston
had his five minutes share of it; but five minutes were enough to
familiarise the idea to his quickness of mind.-- He saw the advantages
of the match, and rejoiced in them with all the constancy of his wife;
but the wonder of it was very soon nothing; and by the end of an hour
he was not far from believing that he had always foreseen it.

"It is to be a secret, I conclude," said he.  "These matters are always
a secret, till it is found out that every body knows them.  Only let me
be told when I may speak out.--I wonder whether Jane has any suspicion."

He went to Highbury the next morning, and satisfied himself on that
point.  He told her the news.  Was not she like a daughter, his eldest
daughter?--he must tell her; and Miss Bates being present, it passed,
of course, to Mrs. Cole, Mrs. Perry, and Mrs. Elton, immediately
afterwards.  It was no more than the principals were prepared for; they
had calculated from the time of its being known at Randalls, how soon
it would be over Highbury; and were thinking of themselves, as the
evening wonder in many a family circle, with great sagacity.

In general, it was a very well approved match.  Some might think him,
and others might think her, the most in luck.  One set might recommend
their all removing to Donwell, and leaving Hartfield for the John
Knightleys; and another might predict disagreements among their
servants; but yet, upon the whole, there was no serious objection
raised, except in one habitation, the Vicarage.--There, the surprize
was not softened by any satisfaction.  Mr. Elton cared little about it,
compared with his wife; he only hoped "the young lady's pride would now
be contented;" and supposed "she had always meant to catch Knightley if
she could;" and, on the point of living at Hartfield, could daringly
exclaim, "Rather he than I!"-- But Mrs. Elton was very much discomposed
indeed.--"Poor Knightley!  poor fellow!--sad business for him.--She was
extremely concerned; for, though very eccentric, he had a thousand good
qualities.-- How could he be so taken in?--Did not think him at all in
love--not in the least.--Poor Knightley!--There would be an end of all
pleasant intercourse with him.--How happy he had been to come and dine
with them whenever they asked him!  But that would be all over now.--
Poor fellow!--No more exploring parties to Donwell made for _her_.  Oh!
no; there would be a Mrs. Knightley to throw cold water on every
thing.--Extremely disagreeable!  But she was not at all sorry that she
had abused the housekeeper the other day.--Shocking plan, living
together.  It would never do.  She knew a family near Maple Grove who
had tried it, and been obliged to separate before the end of the first
quarter.



CHAPTER XVIII


Time passed on.  A few more to-morrows, and the party from London would
be arriving.  It was an alarming change; and Emma was thinking of it
one morning, as what must bring a great deal to agitate and grieve her,
when Mr. Knightley came in, and distressing thoughts were put by.
After the first chat of pleasure he was silent; and then, in a graver
tone, began with,

"I have something to tell you, Emma; some news."

"Good or bad?" said she, quickly, looking up in his face.

"I do not know which it ought to be called."

"Oh! good I am sure.--I see it in your countenance.  You are trying not
to smile."

"I am afraid," said he, composing his features, "I am very much afraid,
my dear Emma, that you will not smile when you hear it."

"Indeed! but why so?--I can hardly imagine that any thing which pleases
or amuses you, should not please and amuse me too."

"There is one subject," he replied, "I hope but one, on which we do not
think alike."  He paused a moment, again smiling, with his eyes fixed
on her face.  "Does nothing occur to you?-- Do not you
recollect?--Harriet Smith."

Her cheeks flushed at the name, and she felt afraid of something,
though she knew not what.

"Have you heard from her yourself this morning?" cried he.  "You have,
I believe, and know the whole."

"No, I have not; I know nothing; pray tell me."

"You are prepared for the worst, I see--and very bad it is.  Harriet
Smith marries Robert Martin."

Emma gave a start, which did not seem like being prepared--and her
eyes, in eager gaze, said, "No, this is impossible!" but her lips were
closed.

"It is so, indeed," continued Mr. Knightley; "I have it from Robert
Martin himself.  He left me not half an hour ago."

She was still looking at him with the most speaking amazement.

"You like it, my Emma, as little as I feared.--I wish our opinions were
the same.  But in time they will.  Time, you may be sure, will make one
or the other of us think differently; and, in the meanwhile, we need
not talk much on the subject."

"You mistake me, you quite mistake me," she replied, exerting herself.
"It is not that such a circumstance would now make me unhappy, but I
cannot believe it.  It seems an impossibility!--You cannot mean to say,
that Harriet Smith has accepted Robert Martin.  You cannot mean that he
has even proposed to her again--yet.  You only mean, that he intends
it."

"I mean that he has done it," answered Mr. Knightley, with smiling but
determined decision, "and been accepted."

"Good God!" she cried.--"Well!"--Then having recourse to her
workbasket, in excuse for leaning down her face, and concealing all the
exquisite feelings of delight and entertainment which she knew she must
be expressing, she added, "Well, now tell me every thing; make this
intelligible to me.  How, where, when?--Let me know it all.  I never
was more surprized--but it does not make me unhappy, I assure
you.--How--how has it been possible?"

"It is a very simple story.  He went to town on business three days
ago, and I got him to take charge of some papers which I was wanting to
send to John.--He delivered these papers to John, at his chambers, and
was asked by him to join their party the same evening to Astley's.
They were going to take the two eldest boys to Astley's. The party was
to be our brother and sister, Henry, John--and Miss Smith.  My friend
Robert could not resist.  They called for him in their way; were all
extremely amused; and my brother asked him to dine with them the next
day--which he did--and in the course of that visit (as I understand) he
found an opportunity of speaking to Harriet; and certainly did not
speak in vain.--She made him, by her acceptance, as happy even as he is
deserving.  He came down by yesterday's coach, and was with me this
morning immediately after breakfast, to report his proceedings, first
on my affairs, and then on his own.  This is all that I can relate of
the how, where, and when.  Your friend Harriet will make a much longer
history when you see her.-- She will give you all the minute
particulars, which only woman's language can make interesting.--In our
communications we deal only in the great.--However, I must say, that
Robert Martin's heart seemed for _him_, and to _me_, very overflowing;
and that he did mention, without its being much to the purpose, that on
quitting their box at Astley's, my brother took charge of Mrs. John
Knightley and little John, and he followed with Miss Smith and Henry;
and that at one time they were in such a crowd, as to make Miss Smith
rather uneasy."

He stopped.--Emma dared not attempt any immediate reply.  To speak, she
was sure would be to betray a most unreasonable degree of happiness.
She must wait a moment, or he would think her mad.  Her silence
disturbed him; and after observing her a little while, he added,

"Emma, my love, you said that this circumstance would not now make you
unhappy; but I am afraid it gives you more pain than you expected.  His
situation is an evil--but you must consider it as what satisfies your
friend; and I will answer for your thinking better and better of him as
you know him more.  His good sense and good principles would delight
you.--As far as the man is concerned, you could not wish your friend in
better hands.  His rank in society I would alter if I could, which is
saying a great deal I assure you, Emma.--You laugh at me about William
Larkins; but I could quite as ill spare Robert Martin."

He wanted her to look up and smile; and having now brought herself not
to smile too broadly--she did--cheerfully answering,

"You need not be at any pains to reconcile me to the match.  I think
Harriet is doing extremely well.  _Her_ connexions may be worse than
_his_.  In respectability of character, there can be no doubt that they
are.  I have been silent from surprize merely, excessive surprize.  You
cannot imagine how suddenly it has come on me! how peculiarly
unprepared I was!--for I had reason to believe her very lately more
determined against him, much more, than she was before."

"You ought to know your friend best," replied Mr. Knightley; "but I
should say she was a good-tempered, soft-hearted girl, not likely to be
very, very determined against any young man who told her he loved her."

Emma could not help laughing as she answered, "Upon my word, I believe
you know her quite as well as I do.--But, Mr. Knightley, are you
perfectly sure that she has absolutely and downright _accepted_ him.  I
could suppose she might in time--but can she already?-- Did not you
misunderstand him?--You were both talking of other things; of business,
shows of cattle, or new drills--and might not you, in the confusion of
so many subjects, mistake him?--It was not Harriet's hand that he was
certain of--it was the dimensions of some famous ox."

The contrast between the countenance and air of Mr. Knightley and
Robert Martin was, at this moment, so strong to Emma's feelings, and so
strong was the recollection of all that had so recently passed on
Harriet's side, so fresh the sound of those words, spoken with such
emphasis, "No, I hope I know better than to think of Robert Martin,"
that she was really expecting the intelligence to prove, in some
measure, premature.  It could not be otherwise.

"Do you dare say this?" cried Mr. Knightley.  "Do you dare to suppose
me so great a blockhead, as not to know what a man is talking of?--
What do you deserve?"

"Oh!  I always deserve the best treatment, because I never put up with
any other; and, therefore, you must give me a plain, direct answer.
Are you quite sure that you understand the terms on which Mr. Martin
and Harriet now are?"

"I am quite sure," he replied, speaking very distinctly, "that he told
me she had accepted him; and that there was no obscurity, nothing
doubtful, in the words he used; and I think I can give you a proof that
it must be so.  He asked my opinion as to what he was now to do.  He
knew of no one but Mrs. Goddard to whom he could apply for information
of her relations or friends.  Could I mention any thing more fit to be
done, than to go to Mrs. Goddard?  I assured him that I could not.
Then, he said, he would endeavour to see her in the course of this day."

"I am perfectly satisfied," replied Emma, with the brightest smiles,
"and most sincerely wish them happy."

"You are materially changed since we talked on this subject before."

"I hope so--for at that time I was a fool."

"And I am changed also; for I am now very willing to grant you all
Harriet's good qualities.  I have taken some pains for your sake, and
for Robert Martin's sake, (whom I have always had reason to believe as
much in love with her as ever,) to get acquainted with her.  I have
often talked to her a good deal.  You must have seen that I did.
Sometimes, indeed, I have thought you were half suspecting me of
pleading poor Martin's cause, which was never the case; but, from all
my observations, I am convinced of her being an artless, amiable girl,
with very good notions, very seriously good principles, and placing her
happiness in the affections and utility of domestic life.-- Much of
this, I have no doubt, she may thank you for."

"Me!" cried Emma, shaking her head.--"Ah! poor Harriet!"

She checked herself, however, and submitted quietly to a little more
praise than she deserved.

Their conversation was soon afterwards closed by the entrance of her
father.  She was not sorry.  She wanted to be alone.  Her mind was in a
state of flutter and wonder, which made it impossible for her to be
collected.  She was in dancing, singing, exclaiming spirits; and till
she had moved about, and talked to herself, and laughed and reflected,
she could be fit for nothing rational.

Her father's business was to announce James's being gone out to put the
horses to, preparatory to their now daily drive to Randalls; and she
had, therefore, an immediate excuse for disappearing.

The joy, the gratitude, the exquisite delight of her sensations may be
imagined.  The sole grievance and alloy thus removed in the prospect of
Harriet's welfare, she was really in danger of becoming too happy for
security.--What had she to wish for?  Nothing, but to grow more worthy
of him, whose intentions and judgment had been ever so superior to her
own.  Nothing, but that the lessons of her past folly might teach her
humility and circumspection in future.

Serious she was, very serious in her thankfulness, and in her
resolutions; and yet there was no preventing a laugh, sometimes in the
very midst of them.  She must laugh at such a close!  Such an end of
the doleful disappointment of five weeks back!  Such a heart--such a
Harriet!

Now there would be pleasure in her returning--Every thing would be a
pleasure.  It would be a great pleasure to know Robert Martin.

High in the rank of her most serious and heartfelt felicities, was the
reflection that all necessity of concealment from Mr. Knightley would
soon be over.  The disguise, equivocation, mystery, so hateful to her
to practise, might soon be over.  She could now look forward to giving
him that full and perfect confidence which her disposition was most
ready to welcome as a duty.

In the gayest and happiest spirits she set forward with her father; not
always listening, but always agreeing to what he said; and, whether in
speech or silence, conniving at the comfortable persuasion of his being
obliged to go to Randalls every day, or poor Mrs. Weston would be
disappointed.

They arrived.--Mrs. Weston was alone in the drawing-room:--but hardly
had they been told of the baby, and Mr. Woodhouse received the thanks
for coming, which he asked for, when a glimpse was caught through the
blind, of two figures passing near the window.

"It is Frank and Miss Fairfax," said Mrs. Weston.  "I was just going to
tell you of our agreeable surprize in seeing him arrive this morning.
He stays till to-morrow, and Miss Fairfax has been persuaded to spend
the day with us.--They are coming in, I hope."

In half a minute they were in the room.  Emma was extremely glad to see
him--but there was a degree of confusion--a number of embarrassing
recollections on each side.  They met readily and smiling, but with a
consciousness which at first allowed little to be said; and having all
sat down again, there was for some time such a blank in the circle,
that Emma began to doubt whether the wish now indulged, which she had
long felt, of seeing Frank Churchill once more, and of seeing him with
Jane, would yield its proportion of pleasure.  When Mr. Weston joined
the party, however, and when the baby was fetched, there was no longer
a want of subject or animation--or of courage and opportunity for
Frank Churchill to draw near her and say,

"I have to thank you, Miss Woodhouse, for a very kind forgiving message
in one of Mrs. Weston's letters.  I hope time has not made you less
willing to pardon.  I hope you do not retract what you then said."

"No, indeed," cried Emma, most happy to begin, "not in the least.  I am
particularly glad to see and shake hands with you--and to give you joy
in person."

He thanked her with all his heart, and continued some time to speak
with serious feeling of his gratitude and happiness.

"Is not she looking well?" said he, turning his eyes towards Jane.
"Better than she ever used to do?--You see how my father and Mrs.
Weston doat upon her."

But his spirits were soon rising again, and with laughing eyes, after
mentioning the expected return of the Campbells, he named the name of
Dixon.--Emma blushed, and forbade its being pronounced in her hearing.

"I can never think of it," she cried, "without extreme shame."

"The shame," he answered, "is all mine, or ought to be.  But is it
possible that you had no suspicion?--I mean of late.  Early, I know,
you had none."

"I never had the smallest, I assure you."

"That appears quite wonderful.  I was once very near--and I wish I
had--it would have been better.  But though I was always doing wrong
things, they were very bad wrong things, and such as did me no
service.-- It would have been a much better transgression had I broken
the bond of secrecy and told you every thing."

"It is not now worth a regret," said Emma.

"I have some hope," resumed he, "of my uncle's being persuaded to pay a
visit at Randalls; he wants to be introduced to her.  When the
Campbells are returned, we shall meet them in London, and continue
there, I trust, till we may carry her northward.--But now, I am at such
a distance from her--is not it hard, Miss Woodhouse?-- Till this
morning, we have not once met since the day of reconciliation.  Do not
you pity me?"

Emma spoke her pity so very kindly, that with a sudden accession of gay
thought, he cried,

"Ah! by the bye," then sinking his voice, and looking demure for the
moment--"I hope Mr. Knightley is well?"  He paused.--She coloured and
laughed.--"I know you saw my letter, and think you may remember my wish
in your favour.  Let me return your congratulations.-- I assure you
that I have heard the news with the warmest interest and
satisfaction.--He is a man whom I cannot presume to praise."

Emma was delighted, and only wanted him to go on in the same style; but
his mind was the next moment in his own concerns and with his own Jane,
and his next words were,

"Did you ever see such a skin?--such smoothness! such delicacy!--and
yet without being actually fair.--One cannot call her fair.  It is a
most uncommon complexion, with her dark eye-lashes and hair--a most
distinguishing complexion!  So peculiarly the lady in it.-- Just colour
enough for beauty."

"I have always admired her complexion," replied Emma, archly; "but do
not I remember the time when you found fault with her for being so
pale?-- When we first began to talk of her.--Have you quite forgotten?"

"Oh! no--what an impudent dog I was!--How could I dare--"

But he laughed so heartily at the recollection, that Emma could not
help saying,

"I do suspect that in the midst of your perplexities at that time, you
had very great amusement in tricking us all.--I am sure you had.-- I am
sure it was a consolation to you."

"Oh! no, no, no--how can you suspect me of such a thing?  I was the
most miserable wretch!"

"Not quite so miserable as to be insensible to mirth.  I am sure it was
a source of high entertainment to you, to feel that you were taking us
all in.--Perhaps I am the readier to suspect, because, to tell you the
truth, I think it might have been some amusement to myself in the same
situation.  I think there is a little likeness between us."

He bowed.

"If not in our dispositions," she presently added, with a look of true
sensibility, "there is a likeness in our destiny; the destiny which
bids fair to connect us with two characters so much superior to our
own."

"True, true," he answered, warmly.  "No, not true on your side.  You
can have no superior, but most true on mine.--She is a complete angel.
Look at her.  Is not she an angel in every gesture?  Observe the turn
of her throat.  Observe her eyes, as she is looking up at my father.--
You will be glad to hear (inclining his head, and whispering seriously)
that my uncle means to give her all my aunt's jewels.  They are to be
new set.  I am resolved to have some in an ornament for the head.  Will
not it be beautiful in her dark hair?"

"Very beautiful, indeed," replied Emma; and she spoke so kindly, that
he gratefully burst out,

"How delighted I am to see you again! and to see you in such excellent
looks!--I would not have missed this meeting for the world.  I should
certainly have called at Hartfield, had you failed to come."

The others had been talking of the child, Mrs. Weston giving an account
of a little alarm she had been under, the evening before, from the
infant's appearing not quite well.  She believed she had been foolish,
but it had alarmed her, and she had been within half a minute of
sending for Mr. Perry.  Perhaps she ought to be ashamed, but Mr. Weston
had been almost as uneasy as herself.--In ten minutes, however, the
child had been perfectly well again.  This was her history; and
particularly interesting it was to Mr. Woodhouse, who commended her
very much for thinking of sending for Perry, and only regretted that
she had not done it.  "She should always send for Perry, if the child
appeared in the slightest degree disordered, were it only for a moment.
She could not be too soon alarmed, nor send for Perry too often.  It
was a pity, perhaps, that he had not come last night; for, though the
child seemed well now, very well considering, it would probably have
been better if Perry had seen it."

Frank Churchill caught the name.

"Perry!" said he to Emma, and trying, as he spoke, to catch Miss
Fairfax's eye.  "My friend Mr. Perry!  What are they saying about Mr.
Perry?--Has he been here this morning?--And how does he travel
now?--Has he set up his carriage?"

Emma soon recollected, and understood him; and while she joined in the
laugh, it was evident from Jane's countenance that she too was really
hearing him, though trying to seem deaf.

"Such an extraordinary dream of mine!" he cried.  "I can never think of
it without laughing.--She hears us, she hears us, Miss Woodhouse.  I
see it in her cheek, her smile, her vain attempt to frown.  Look at
her.  Do not you see that, at this instant, the very passage of her own
letter, which sent me the report, is passing under her eye--that the
whole blunder is spread before her--that she can attend to nothing
else, though pretending to listen to the others?"

Jane was forced to smile completely, for a moment; and the smile partly
remained as she turned towards him, and said in a conscious, low, yet
steady voice,

"How you can bear such recollections, is astonishing to me!-- They
_will_ sometimes obtrude--but how you can court them!"

He had a great deal to say in return, and very entertainingly; but
Emma's feelings were chiefly with Jane, in the argument; and on leaving
Randalls, and falling naturally into a comparison of the two men, she
felt, that pleased as she had been to see Frank Churchill, and really
regarding him as she did with friendship, she had never been more
sensible of Mr. Knightley's high superiority of character.  The
happiness of this most happy day, received its completion, in the
animated contemplation of his worth which this comparison produced.



CHAPTER XIX


If Emma had still, at intervals, an anxious feeling for Harriet, a
momentary doubt of its being possible for her to be really cured of her
attachment to Mr. Knightley, and really able to accept another man from
unbiased inclination, it was not long that she had to suffer from the
recurrence of any such uncertainty.  A very few days brought the party
from London, and she had no sooner an opportunity of being one hour
alone with Harriet, than she became perfectly satisfied--unaccountable
as it was!--that Robert Martin had thoroughly supplanted Mr.
Knightley, and was now forming all her views of happiness.

Harriet was a little distressed--did look a little foolish at first:
but having once owned that she had been presumptuous and silly, and
self-deceived, before, her pain and confusion seemed to die away with
the words, and leave her without a care for the past, and with the
fullest exultation in the present and future; for, as to her friend's
approbation, Emma had instantly removed every fear of that nature, by
meeting her with the most unqualified congratulations.-- Harriet was
most happy to give every particular of the evening at Astley's, and the
dinner the next day; she could dwell on it all with the utmost delight.
But what did such particulars explain?-- The fact was, as Emma could
now acknowledge, that Harriet had always liked Robert Martin; and that
his continuing to love her had been irresistible.--Beyond this, it must
ever be unintelligible to Emma.

The event, however, was most joyful; and every day was giving her fresh
reason for thinking so.--Harriet's parentage became known.  She proved
to be the daughter of a tradesman, rich enough to afford her the
comfortable maintenance which had ever been hers, and decent enough to
have always wished for concealment.--Such was the blood of gentility
which Emma had formerly been so ready to vouch for!-- It was likely to
be as untainted, perhaps, as the blood of many a gentleman:  but what a
connexion had she been preparing for Mr. Knightley--or for the
Churchills--or even for Mr. Elton!-- The stain of illegitimacy,
unbleached by nobility or wealth, would have been a stain indeed.

No objection was raised on the father's side; the young man was treated
liberally; it was all as it should be:  and as Emma became acquainted
with Robert Martin, who was now introduced at Hartfield, she fully
acknowledged in him all the appearance of sense and worth which could
bid fairest for her little friend.  She had no doubt of Harriet's
happiness with any good-tempered man; but with him, and in the home he
offered, there would be the hope of more, of security, stability, and
improvement.  She would be placed in the midst of those who loved her,
and who had better sense than herself; retired enough for safety, and
occupied enough for cheerfulness.  She would be never led into
temptation, nor left for it to find her out.  She would be respectable
and happy; and Emma admitted her to be the luckiest creature in the
world, to have created so steady and persevering an affection in such a
man;--or, if not quite the luckiest, to yield only to herself.

Harriet, necessarily drawn away by her engagements with the Martins,
was less and less at Hartfield; which was not to be regretted.-- The
intimacy between her and Emma must sink; their friendship must change
into a calmer sort of goodwill; and, fortunately, what ought to be, and
must be, seemed already beginning, and in the most gradual, natural
manner.

Before the end of September, Emma attended Harriet to church, and saw
her hand bestowed on Robert Martin with so complete a satisfaction, as
no remembrances, even connected with Mr. Elton as he stood before them,
could impair.--Perhaps, indeed, at that time she scarcely saw Mr.
Elton, but as the clergyman whose blessing at the altar might next fall
on herself.--Robert Martin and Harriet Smith, the latest couple engaged
of the three, were the first to be married.

Jane Fairfax had already quitted Highbury, and was restored to the
comforts of her beloved home with the Campbells.--The Mr. Churchills
were also in town; and they were only waiting for November.

The intermediate month was the one fixed on, as far as they dared, by
Emma and Mr. Knightley.--They had determined that their marriage ought
to be concluded while John and Isabella were still at Hartfield, to
allow them the fortnight's absence in a tour to the seaside, which was
the plan.--John and Isabella, and every other friend, were agreed in
approving it.  But Mr. Woodhouse--how was Mr. Woodhouse to be induced
to consent?--he, who had never yet alluded to their marriage but as a
distant event.

When first sounded on the subject, he was so miserable, that they were
almost hopeless.--A second allusion, indeed, gave less pain.-- He began
to think it was to be, and that he could not prevent it--a very
promising step of the mind on its way to resignation.  Still, however,
he was not happy.  Nay, he appeared so much otherwise, that his
daughter's courage failed.  She could not bear to see him suffering, to
know him fancying himself neglected; and though her understanding
almost acquiesced in the assurance of both the Mr. Knightleys, that
when once the event were over, his distress would be soon over too, she
hesitated--she could not proceed.

In this state of suspense they were befriended, not by any sudden
illumination of Mr. Woodhouse's mind, or any wonderful change of his
nervous system, but by the operation of the same system in another
way.-- Mrs. Weston's poultry-house was robbed one night of all her
turkeys--evidently by the ingenuity of man.  Other poultry-yards in the
neighbourhood also suffered.--Pilfering was _housebreaking_ to Mr.
Woodhouse's fears.--He was very uneasy; and but for the sense of his
son-in-law's protection, would have been under wretched alarm every
night of his life.  The strength, resolution, and presence of mind of
the Mr. Knightleys, commanded his fullest dependence.  While either of
them protected him and his, Hartfield was safe.-- But Mr. John
Knightley must be in London again by the end of the first week in
November.

The result of this distress was, that, with a much more voluntary,
cheerful consent than his daughter had ever presumed to hope for at the
moment, she was able to fix her wedding-day--and Mr. Elton was called
on, within a month from the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Martin, to
join the hands of Mr. Knightley and Miss Woodhouse.

The wedding was very much like other weddings, where the parties have
no taste for finery or parade; and Mrs. Elton, from the particulars
detailed by her husband, thought it all extremely shabby, and very
inferior to her own.--"Very little white satin, very few lace veils; a
most pitiful business!--Selina would stare when she heard of it."--But,
in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence,
the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the
ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union.



FINIS





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