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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesEmma - Volume I - :chapter Xvii
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Emma - Volume I - :chapter Xvii Post by :Buck_Naked Category :Long Stories Author :Jane Austen Date :December 2010 Read :3465

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Emma - Volume I - :chapter Xvii

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Emma - Volume I - Chapter Xviii Emma - Volume I - Chapter Xviii

Emma - Volume I - Chapter Xviii
Mr. Frank Churchill did not come. When the time proposeddrew near, Mrs. Weston's fears were justified in the arrivalof a letter of excuse. For the present, he could not be spared,to his "very great mortification and regret; but still he lookedforward with the hope of coming to Randalls at no distant period."Mrs. Weston was exceedingly disappointed--much more disappointed,in fact, than her husband, though her dependence on seeing theyoung man had been so much more sober: but a sanguine temper,though for ever expecting more good than occurs, does notalways pay for its hopes by any proportionate depression.It soon flies
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Emma - Volume I - Chapter Xvi Emma - Volume I - Chapter Xvi

Emma - Volume I - Chapter Xvi
The hair was curled, and the maid sent away, and Emma sat down to thinkand be miserable.--It was a wretched business indeed!--Such an overthrowof every thing she had been wishing for!--Such a development of everything most unwelcome!--Such a blow for Harriet!--that was the worstof all. Every part of it brought pain and humiliation, of some sortor other; but, compared with the evil to Harriet, all was light;and she would gladly have submitted to feel yet more mistaken--more in error--more disgraced by mis-judgment, than she actually was,could the effects of her blunders have been confined to herself."If I had not persuaded
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