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heart had Harriet for visiting. Only half an hour before her
friend called for her at Mrs. Goddard's, her evil stars had led her to
the very spot where, at that moment, a trunk, directed to The Rev.
Philip Elton, White-Hart, Bath, was to be seen under the operation of
being lifted into the butcher's cart, which was to convey it to where
the coaches past; and every thing in this world, excepting that trunk
and the direction, was consequently a blank.
She went, however; and when they reached the farm, and she was to be
put down, at the end of the broad, neat gravel walk, which led between espalier apple-trees to the front
door, the sight of every thing which
had given her so much pleasure the autumn before, was beginning to
revive a little local agitation; and when they parted, Emma observed
her to be looking around with a sort of fearful curiosity, which
determined her not to allow the visit to exceed the proposed quarter of
an hour. She went on herself, to give that portion of time to
old servant who was married, and settled in Donwell.
The quarter of an hour brought her punctually to the white gate again;
and Miss Smith receiving her summons, was with her without delay, and
unattended by any alarming young man. She came solitarily
the gravel walk--a Miss Martin just appearing at the door, and parting
with her seemingly with ceremonious civility.
Harriet could not very soon give an intelligible account. She was
feeling too much; but at last Emma collected from her enough to
understand the sort of meeting, and the sort of pain it was
creating. She had seen only Mrs. Martin and the two girls.
had received her doubtingly, if not coolly; and nothing beyond the
merest commonplace had been talked almost all the time-- till just at
last, when Mrs. Martin's saying, all of a sudden, that she
thought Miss Smith was grown, had brought on a more interesting
subject, and a warmer manner. In that very room she had been
measured last September, with her two friends. There were
the pencilled marks and memorandums on the wainscot
window. He had done it. They all seemed to remember
day, the hour, the party, the occasion--to feel the same consciousness,
the same regrets--to be ready to return to the same good understanding;
and they were just growing again like themselves, (Harriet, as Emma
must suspect, as ready as the best of them to be cordial and happy,)
when the carriage reappeared, and all was over. The style of
visit, and the shortness of it, were then felt to be decisive. Fourteen
minutes to be given to those with whom she had thankfully passed six
weeks not six months ago!--Emma could not but picture it all, and feel
how justly they might resent, how naturally Harriet must
It was a bad business. She would have given a great deal, or
endured a great deal, to have had the Martins in a higher rank of
life. They were so deserving, that a little higher should
been enough: but as it was, how could she have
done otherwise?-- Impossible!--She could not repent.
separated; but there was a great deal of pain in the process-- so much
to herself at this time, that she soon felt the necessity of a little
consolation, and resolved on going home by way of Randalls to procure
it. Her mind was quite sick of Mr. Elton and the Martins. The
refreshment of Randalls was absolutely necessary.
It was a good scheme; but on driving to the door they heard that
neither "master nor mistress was at home;" they had both been out some
time; the man believed they were gone to Hartfield.
"This is too bad," cried Emma, as they turned away. "And now
shall just miss them; too provoking!--I do not know when I have been so
disappointed." And she leaned back in the corner, to indulge
murmurs, or to reason them away; probably a little of both-- such being
the commonest process of a not ill-disposed mind. Presently the
carriage stopt; she looked up; it was stopt by Mr. and Mrs. Weston, who
were standing to speak to her. There was instant pleasure in the sight
of them, and still greater pleasure was conveyed in sound--for Mr.
Weston immediately accosted her with,
"How d'ye do?--how d'ye do?--We have been sitting with your father--
glad to see him so well. Frank comes to-morrow--I had a
this morning--we see him to-morrow by dinner-time to a certainty-- he
is at Oxford to-day, and he comes for a whole fortnight; I knew it
would be so. If he had come at Christmas he could not have
three days; I was always glad he did not come at Christmas; now we are
going to have just the right weather for him, fine, dry, settled
weather. We shall enjoy him completely; every thing has turned out
as we could wish."
There was no resisting such news, no possibility of avoiding the
influence of such a happy face as Mr. Weston's, confirmed as it all was
by the words and the countenance of his wife, fewer and quieter, but
not less to the purpose. To know that she thought his coming
certain was enough to make Emma consider it so, and sincerely did she
rejoice in their joy. It was a most delightful reanimation of
exhausted spirits. The worn-out past was sunk in the
what was coming; and in the rapidity of half a moment's thought, she
hoped Mr. Elton would now be talked of no more.
Mr. Weston gave her the history of the engagements at Enscombe, which
allowed his son to answer for having an entire fortnight at his
command, as well as the route and the method of his journey; and she
listened, and smiled, and congratulated.
"I shall soon bring him over to Hartfield," said he, at the conclusion.
Emma could imagine she saw a touch of the arm at this speech, from his
"We had better move on, Mr. Weston," said she, "we are detaining the
"Well, well, I am ready;"--and turning again to Emma, "but you must not
be expecting such a very fine young man; you have only had my account
you know; I dare say he is really nothing extraordinary:"-- though his
own sparkling eyes at the moment were speaking a very different
Emma could look perfectly unconscious and innocent, and answer in a
manner that appropriated nothing.
"Think of me to-morrow, my dear Emma, about four o'clock," was Mrs.
Weston's parting injunction; spoken with some anxiety, and meant only
"Four o'clock!--depend upon it he will be here by three," was Mr.
Weston's quick amendment; and so ended a most satisfactory meeting.
Emma's spirits were mounted quite up to happiness; every thing wore a
different air; James and his horses seemed not half so sluggish as
before. When she looked at the hedges, she thought the
at least must soon be coming out; and when she turned round to Harriet,
she saw something like a look of spring, a tender smile even there.
"Will Mr. Frank Churchill pass through Bath as well as Oxford?"-- was a
question, however, which did not augur much.
But neither geography nor tranquillity could come all at once, and Emma
was now in a humour to resolve that they should both come in time.
The morning of the interesting day arrived, and Mrs. Weston's faithful
pupil did not forget either at ten, or eleven, or twelve o'clock, that
she was to think of her at four.
"My dear, dear anxious friend,"--said she, in mental soliloquy, while
walking downstairs from her own room, "always overcareful for every
body's comfort but your own; I see you now in all your little fidgets,
going again and again into his room, to be sure that all is
right." The clock struck twelve as she passed through the
hall. "'Tis twelve; I shall not forget to think of you four
hence; and by this time to-morrow, perhaps, or a little later, I may be
thinking of the possibility of their all calling here. I am sure they
will bring him soon."
She opened the parlour door, and saw two gentlemen sitting with her
father--Mr. Weston and his son. They had been arrived only a
minutes, and Mr. Weston had scarcely finished his explanation of
Frank's being a day before his time, and her father was yet in the
midst of his very civil welcome and congratulations, when she appeared,
to have her share of surprize, introduction, and pleasure.
The Frank Churchill so long talked of, so high in interest, was
actually before her--he was presented to her, and she did not think too
much had been said in his praise; he was a very good looking young man;
height, air, address, all were unexceptionable, and his countenance had
a great deal of the spirit and liveliness of his father's; he looked
quick and sensible. She felt immediately that she should like
him; and there was a well-bred ease of manner, and a readiness to talk,
which convinced her that he came intending to be acquainted with her,
and that acquainted they soon must be.
He had reached Randalls the evening before. She was pleased
the eagerness to arrive which had made him alter his plan, and travel
earlier, later, and quicker, that he might gain half a day.
"I told you yesterday," cried Mr. Weston with exultation, "I told you
all that he would be here before the time named. I remembered
what I used to do myself. One cannot creep upon a journey;
cannot help getting on faster than one has planned; and the pleasure of
coming in upon one's friends before the look-out begins, is worth a
great deal more than any little exertion it needs."
"It is a great pleasure where one can indulge in it," said the young
man, "though there are not many houses that I should presume on so far;
but in coming home I felt I might do any thing."
The word home made his father look on him with fresh complacency. Emma
was directly sure that he knew how to make himself agreeable; the
conviction was strengthened by what followed. He was very
pleased with Randalls, thought it a most admirably arranged house,
would hardly allow it even to be very small, admired the situation, the
walk to Highbury, Highbury itself, Hartfield still more, and professed
himself to have always felt the sort of interest in the country which
none but one's own country gives, and the greatest curiosity to visit
it. That he should never have been able to indulge so amiable
feeling before, passed suspiciously through Emma's brain; but still, if
it were a falsehood, it was a pleasant one, and pleasantly
handled. His manner had no air
study or exaggeration. He did really look and speak as if in
state of no common enjoyment.
Their subjects in general were such as belong to an opening
acquaintance. On his side were the inquiries,--"Was she a
horsewoman?--Pleasant rides?-- Pleasant walks?--Had they a large
neighbourhood?--Highbury, perhaps, afforded society enough?--There were
several very pretty houses in and about it.--Balls--had they
balls?--Was it a musical society?"
But when satisfied on all these points, and their acquaintance
proportionably advanced, he contrived to find an opportunity, while
their two fathers were engaged with each other, of introducing his
mother-in-law, and speaking of her with so much handsome praise, so
much warm admiration, so much gratitude for the happiness she secured
to his father, and her very kind reception of himself, as was an
additional proof of his knowing how to please-- and of his certainly
thinking it worth while to try to please her. He did not advance a word
of praise beyond what she knew to be thoroughly deserved by Mrs.
Weston; but, undoubtedly he could know very little of the
He understood what would be welcome; he could be sure of little
else. "His father's marriage," he said, "had been the wisest
measure, every friend must rejoice in it; and the family from whom he
had received such a blessing must be ever considered as having
conferred the highest obligation on him."
He got as near as he could to thanking her for Miss Taylor's merits,
without seeming quite to forget that in the common course of things it
was to be rather supposed that Miss Taylor had formed Miss Woodhouse's
character, than Miss Woodhouse Miss Taylor's. And at last, as if
resolved to qualify his opinion completely for travelling round to its
object, he wound it all up with astonishment at the youth and beauty of
"Elegant, agreeable manners, I was prepared for," said he; "but I
confess that, considering every thing, I had not expected more than a
very tolerably well-looking woman of a certain age; I did not know that
I was to find a pretty young woman in Mrs. Weston."
"You cannot see too much perfection in Mrs. Weston for my feelings,"
said Emma; "were you to guess her to be eighteen, I should listen with
pleasure; but she would be ready to quarrel with you for using such
words. Don't let her imagine that you have spoken of her as a
pretty young woman."
"I hope I should know better," he replied; "no, depend upon it, (with a
gallant bow,) that in addressing Mrs. Weston I should understand whom I
might praise without any danger of being thought extravagant in my
Emma wondered whether the same suspicion of what might be expected from
their knowing each other, which had taken strong possession of her
mind, had ever crossed his; and whether his compliments were to be
considered as marks of acquiescence, or proofs of defiance. She must
see more of him to understand his ways; at present she only felt they
She had no doubt of what Mr. Weston was often thinking about. His quick
eye she detected again and again glancing towards them with a happy
expression; and even, when he might have determined not to look, she
was confident that he was often listening.
Her own father's perfect exemption from any thought of the kind, the
entire deficiency in him of all such sort of penetration or suspicion,
was a most comfortable circumstance. Happily he was not
farther from approving matrimony than from foreseeing it.--
Though always objecting to every marriage that was arranged, he never
suffered beforehand from the apprehension of any; it seemed as if he
could not think so ill of any two persons' understanding as to suppose
they meant to marry till it were proved against them. She
the favouring blindness. He could now, without the drawback of a single
without a glance forward at any possible treachery in his guest, give
way to all his natural kind-hearted civility in solicitous inquiries
after Mr. Frank Churchill's accommodation on his journey, through the
sad evils of sleeping two nights on the road, and express very genuine
unmixed anxiety to know that he had certainly escaped catching
cold--which, however, he could not allow him to feel quite assured of
himself till after another night.
A reasonable visit paid, Mr. Weston began to move.--"He must be going.
He had business at the Crown about his hay, and a great many errands
for Mrs. Weston at Ford's, but he need not hurry any body else." His
son, too well bred to hear the hint, rose immediately also, saying,
"As you are going farther on business, sir, I will take the opportunity
of paying a visit, which must be paid some day or other, and therefore
may as well be paid now. I have the honour of being
with a neighbour of yours, (turning to Emma,) a lady residing in or
near Highbury; a family of the name of Fairfax. I shall have no
difficulty, I suppose, in finding the house; though Fairfax, I believe,
is not the proper name--I should rather say Barnes, or
Bates. Do you know any family of that name?"
"To be sure we do," cried his father; "Mrs. Bates--we passed her
house-- I saw Miss Bates at the window. True, true, you are
acquainted with Miss Fairfax; I remember you knew her at Weymouth, and
a fine girl she is. Call upon her, by all means."
"There is no necessity for my calling this morning," said the young
man; "another day would do as well; but there was that degree of
acquaintance at Weymouth which--"
"Oh! go to-day, go to-day. Do not defer it. What is right to
done cannot be done too soon. And, besides, I must give you a
hint, Frank; any want of attention to her here should be carefully
avoided. You saw her with the Campbells, when she was the equal of
every body she mixed with, but here she is with a poor old grandmother,
who has barely enough to live on. If you do not call early it
will be a slight."
The son looked convinced.
"I have heard her speak of the acquaintance," said Emma; "she is a very
elegant young woman."
He agreed to it, but with so quiet a "Yes," as inclined her almost to
doubt his real concurrence; and yet there must be a very distinct sort
of elegance for the fashionable world, if Jane Fairfax could be thought
only ordinarily gifted with it.
"If you were never particularly struck by her manners before," said
she, "I think you will to-day. You will see her to advantage; see her
and hear her--no, I am afraid you will not hear her at all, for she has
an aunt who never holds her tongue."
"You are acquainted with Miss Jane Fairfax, sir, are you?" said Mr.
Woodhouse, always the last to make his way in conversation; "then give
me leave to assure you that you will find her a very agreeable young
lady. She is staying here on a visit to her grandmama and
very worthy people; I have known them all my life. They will be
extremely glad to see you, I am sure; and one of my servants shall go
with you to shew you the way."
"My dear sir, upon no account in the world; my father can direct me."
"But your father is not going so far; he is only going to the Crown,
quite on the other side of the street, and there are a great many
houses; you might be very much at a loss, and it is a very dirty walk,
unless you keep on the footpath; but my coachman can tell you where you
had best cross the street."
Mr. Frank Churchill still declined it, looking as serious as he could,
and his father gave his hearty support by calling out, "My good friend,
this is quite unnecessary; Frank knows a puddle of water when he sees
it, and as to Mrs. Bates's, he may get there from the Crown in a hop,
step, and jump."
They were permitted to go alone; and with a cordial nod from one, and a
graceful bow from the other, the two gentlemen took leave. Emma
remained very well pleased with this beginning of the acquaintance, and
could now engage to think of them all at Randalls any hour of the day,
with full confidence in their comfort.
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