Part 5 out of 9
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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."
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
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
"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."
"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
"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
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.
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
"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
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
"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?"
"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
"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
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,
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
"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,
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
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!"
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
"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
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.
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
"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!"
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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.
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
`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
"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
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
"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-controul; 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."
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