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wretchedness of a scheme to Box Hill was in Emma's thoughts all the
evening. How it might be considered by the rest of the party,
could not tell. They, in their different homes, and their
different ways, might be looking back on it with pleasure; but in her
view it was a morning more completely misspent, more totally bare of
satisfaction at the time, and more to be abhorred in recollection, than
any she had ever passed. A whole evening of back-gammon with
father, was felicity to it. There, indeed, lay real pleasure,
there she was giving up the sweetest hours of the twenty-four to his
comfort; and feeling that, unmerited as might be the degree of his fond
affection and confiding esteem, she could not, in her general conduct,
be open to any severe reproach. As a daughter, she hoped she
not without a heart. She hoped no one could have said to her,
"How could you be so unfeeling to your father?-- I must, I will tell
you truths while I can." Miss Bates should never again--no,
never! If attention, in future, could do away the past, she
hope to be forgiven. She had been often remiss, her
told her so; remiss, perhaps, more in thought than fact; scornful,
ungracious. But it should be so no more. In the warmth of
contrition, she would call upon her the very next morning, and it
should be the beginning, on her side, of a regular, equal, kindly
She was just as determined when the morrow came, and went early, that
nothing might prevent her. It was not unlikely, she thought,
she might see Mr. Knightley in her way; or, perhaps, he might come in
while she were paying her visit. She had no objection. She
not be ashamed of the appearance of the penitence, so justly and truly
hers. Her eyes were towards Donwell as she walked, but she
"The ladies were all at home." She had never rejoiced at the
sound before, nor ever before entered the passage, nor walked up the
stairs, with any wish of giving pleasure, but in conferring obligation,
or of deriving it, except in subsequent ridicule.
There was a bustle on her approach; a good deal of moving and talking.
She heard Miss Bates's voice, something was to be done in a hurry; the
maid looked frightened and awkward; hoped she would be pleased to wait
a moment, and then ushered her in too soon. The aunt and
seemed both escaping into the adjoining room. Jane she had a
distinct glimpse of, looking extremely ill; and, before the door had
shut them out, she heard Miss Bates saying, "Well, my dear, I shall say
you are laid down upon the bed, and I am sure you are ill enough."
Poor old Mrs. Bates, civil and humble as usual, looked as if she did
not quite understand what was going on.
"I am afraid Jane is not very well," said she, "but I do not know; they
tell me she is well. I dare say my daughter will be here
presently, Miss Woodhouse. I hope you find a chair.
Hetty had not gone. I am very little able--Have you a chair, ma'am? Do
you sit where you like? I am sure she will be here presently."
Emma seriously hoped she would. She had a moment's fear of
Bates keeping away from her. But Miss Bates soon came--"Very
happy and obliged"--but Emma's conscience told her that there was not
the same cheerful volubility as before--less ease of look and manner. A
very friendly inquiry after Miss Fairfax, she hoped, might lead the way
to a return of old feelings. The touch seemed immediate.
"Ah! Miss Woodhouse, how kind you are!--I suppose you have
heard-- and are come to give us joy. This does not seem much
joy, indeed, in me--(twinkling away a tear or two)--but it will be very
trying for us to part with her, after having had her so long, and she
has a dreadful headache just now, writing all the morning:-- such long
letters, you know, to be written to Colonel Campbell, and Mrs.
Dixon. `My dear,' said I, `you will blind yourself'-- for
were in her eyes perpetually. One cannot wonder, one cannot
wonder. It is a great change; and though she is amazingly
fortunate--such a situation, I suppose, as no young woman before ever
met with on first going out--do not think us ungrateful, Miss
Woodhouse, for such surprising good fortune--(again dispersing her
tears)--but, poor dear soul! if you were to see what a headache she
has. When one is in great pain, you know one cannot feel any
blessing quite as it may deserve. She is as low as possible.
look at her, nobody would think how delighted and happy she is to have
secured such a situation. You will excuse her not coming to
you--she is not able--she is gone into her own room-- I want her to lie
down upon the bed. `My dear,' said I, `I shall say you are
down upon the bed:' but, however, she is not; she is walking
about the room. But, now that she has written her letters,
says she shall soon be well. She will be extremely sorry to
seeing you, Miss Woodhouse, but your kindness will excuse
You were kept waiting at the door--I was quite ashamed-- but somehow
there was a little bustle--for it so happened that we had not heard the
knock, and till you were on the stairs, we did not know any body was
coming. `It is only Mrs. Cole,' said I, `depend upon
Nobody else would come so early.' `Well,' said she, `it must
borne some time or other, and it may as well be now.' But then Patty
came in, and said it was you. `Oh!' said I, `it is Miss
Woodhouse: I am sure you will like to see her.'-- `I can see
nobody,' said she; and up she got, and would go away; and that was what
made us keep you waiting--and extremely sorry and ashamed we
were. `If you must go, my dear,' said I, `you must, and I
say you are laid down upon the bed.'"
Emma was most sincerely interested. Her heart had been long
growing kinder towards Jane; and this picture of her present sufferings
acted as a cure of every former ungenerous suspicion, and left her
nothing but pity; and the remembrance of the less just and less gentle
sensations of the past, obliged her to admit that Jane might very
naturally resolve on seeing Mrs. Cole or any other steady friend, when
she might not bear to see herself. She spoke as she felt,
earnest regret and solicitude--sincerely wishing that the circumstances
which she collected from Miss Bates to be now actually determined on,
might be as much for Miss Fairfax's advantage and comfort as
possible. "It must be a severe trial to them all. She had
understood it was to be delayed till Colonel Campbell's return."
"So very kind!" replied Miss Bates. "But you are always kind."
There was no bearing such an "always;" and to break through her
dreadful gratitude, Emma made the direct inquiry of--
"Where--may I ask?--is Miss Fairfax going?"
"To a Mrs. Smallridge--charming woman--most superior--to have the
charge of her three little girls--delightful children. Impossible that
any situation could be more replete with comfort; if we except,
perhaps, Mrs. Suckling's own family, and Mrs. Bragge's;
but Mrs. Smallridge is intimate with both, and in the very same
neighbourhood:--lives only four miles from Maple Grove. Jane will be
only four miles from Maple Grove."
"Mrs. Elton, I suppose, has been the person to whom Miss Fairfax owes--"
"Yes, our good Mrs. Elton. The most indefatigable, true
She would not take a denial. She would not let Jane say,
for when Jane first heard of it, (it was the day before yesterday, the
very morning we were at Donwell,) when Jane first heard of it, she was
quite decided against accepting the offer, and for the reasons you
mention; exactly as you say, she had made up her mind to close with
nothing till Colonel Campbell's return, and nothing should induce her
to enter into any engagement at present--and so she told Mrs. Elton
over and over again--and I am sure I had no more idea that she would
change her mind!--but that good Mrs. Elton, whose judgment never fails
her, saw farther than I did. It is not every body that would
stood out in such a kind way as she did, and refuse to take Jane's
answer; but she positively declared she would not write any such denial
yesterday, as Jane wished her; she would wait--and, sure enough,
yesterday evening it was all settled that Jane should go.
surprise to me! I had not the least idea!--Jane took Mrs.
aside, and told her at once, that upon thinking over the advantages of
Mrs. Smallridge's situation,
she had come to the resolution of accepting it.--I did not know a word
of it till it was all settled."
"You spent the evening with Mrs. Elton?"
"Yes, all of us; Mrs. Elton would have us come. It was
so, upon the hill, while we were walking about with Mr. Knightley. `You
must all spend your evening with us,' said she--`I positively must have
you all come.'"
"Mr. Knightley was there too, was he?"
"No, not Mr. Knightley; he declined it from the first; and though I
thought he would come, because Mrs. Elton declared she would not let
him off, he did not;--but my mother, and Jane, and I, were all there,
and a very agreeable evening we had. Such kind friends, you
Miss Woodhouse, one must always find agreeable, though every body
seemed rather fagged after the morning's party. Even
you know, is fatiguing--and I cannot say that any of them seemed very
much to have enjoyed it. However, I shall always think it a
pleasant party, and feel extremely obliged to the kind friends who
included me in it."
"Miss Fairfax, I suppose, though you were not aware of it, had been
making up her mind the whole day?"
"I dare say she had."
"Whenever the time may come, it must be unwelcome to her and all her
friends--but I hope her engagement will have every alleviation that is
possible--I mean, as to the character and manners of the family."
"Thank you, dear Miss Woodhouse. Yes, indeed, there is every
thing in the world that can make her happy in it. Except the
Sucklings and Bragges, there is not such another nursery establishment,
so liberal and elegant, in all Mrs. Elton's acquaintance. Mrs.
Smallridge, a most delightful woman!--A style of living almost equal to
Maple Grove--and as to the children, except the little Sucklings and
little Bragges, there are not such elegant sweet children
anywhere. Jane will be treated with such regard and
It will be nothing but pleasure, a life of pleasure.--And her salary!--
I really cannot venture to name her salary to you, Miss Woodhouse. Even
you, used as you are to great sums, would hardly believe that so much
could be given to a young person like Jane."
"Ah! madam," cried Emma, "if other children are at all like what I
remember to have been myself, I should think five times the amount of
what I have ever yet heard named as a salary on such occasions, dearly
"You are so noble in your ideas!"
"And when is Miss Fairfax to leave you?"
"Very soon, very soon, indeed; that's the worst of it. Within a
fortnight. Mrs. Smallridge is in a great hurry. My
mother does not know how to bear it. So then, I try to put it
of her thoughts, and say, Come ma'am, do not let us think about it any
"Her friends must all be sorry to lose her; and will not Colonel and
Mrs. Campbell be sorry to find that she has engaged herself before
"Yes; Jane says she is sure they will; but yet, this is such a
situation as she cannot feel herself justified in declining. I was so
astonished when she first told me what she had been saying to Mrs.
Elton, and when Mrs. Elton at the same moment came congratulating me
upon it! It was before tea--stay--no, it could not be before
because we were just going to cards--and yet it was before tea, because
I remember thinking--Oh! no, now I recollect, now I have it; something
happened before tea, but not that. Mr. Elton was called out
the room before tea, old John Abdy's son wanted to speak with
him. Poor old John, I have a great regard for him; he was
to my poor father twenty-seven years; and now, poor old man, he is
bed-ridden, and very poorly with the rheumatic gout in his joints-- I
must go and see him to-day; and so will Jane, I am sure, if she gets
out at all. And poor John's son came to talk to Mr. Elton
relief from the parish; he is very well to do himself, you know, being
head man at the Crown, ostler, and every thing of that
sort, but still
he cannot keep his father without some help; and so, when Mr. Elton
came back, he told us what John ostler had been telling him, and then
it came out about the chaise having been sent to Randalls to take Mr.
Frank Churchill to Richmond. That was what happened before
It was after tea that Jane spoke
to Mrs. Elton."
Miss Bates would hardly give Emma time to say how perfectly new this
circumstance was to her; but as without supposing it possible that she
could be ignorant of any of the particulars of Mr. Frank Churchill's
going, she proceeded to give them all, it was
of no consequence.
What Mr. Elton had learned from the ostler on the subject, being the
accumulation of the ostler's own knowledge, and the knowledge of the
servants at Randalls, was, that a messenger had come over from Richmond
soon after the return of the party from Box Hill-- which messenger,
however, had been no more than was expected; and that
Mr. Churchill had sent his nephew a few lines, containing, upon the
whole, a tolerable account of Mrs. Churchill, and only wishing him not
to delay coming back beyond the next morning early; but that Mr. Frank
Churchill having resolved to go home directly, without waiting at all,
and his horse seeming to have got a cold, Tom had been sent off
immediately for the Crown chaise, and the ostler had stood out and seen
it pass by, the boy going a good pace,
and driving very steady.
There was nothing in all this either to astonish or interest, and it
caught Emma's attention only as it united with the subject which
already engaged her mind. The contrast between Mrs.
importance in the world, and Jane Fairfax's, struck her; one was every
thing, the other nothing--and she sat musing on the difference of
woman's destiny, and quite unconscious on what her eyes were fixed,
till roused by Miss Bates's saying,
"Aye, I see what you are thinking of, the pianoforte. What is
become of that?--Very true. Poor dear Jane was talking of it
now.-- `You must go,' said she. `You and I must
will have no business here.--Let it stay, however,' said she; `give it
houseroom till Colonel Campbell comes back. I shall talk
to him; he will settle for me; he will help me out of all my
difficulties.'-- And to this day, I do believe, she knows not whether
it was his present or his daughter's."
Now Emma was obliged to think of the pianoforte; and the remembrance of
all her former fanciful and unfair conjectures was so little pleasing,
that she soon allowed herself to believe her visit had been long
enough; and, with a repetition of every thing that she could venture to
say of the good wishes which she really felt, took leave.
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