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Title: Emma
Author: Austen, Jane
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. Woodhouse’s 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 yours--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 that 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 inside 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 celery, 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
tolerably;--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 teased, 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 ‘amiable,’ 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 foundling 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 yours.”



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 good-natured,
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 than 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 vexatious, 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 hers, 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
in 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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