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Chapter 11

  • Mr. Elton must now be left to himself. It was no longer in Emma's power t_uperintend his happiness or quicken his measures. The coming of her sister'_amily was so very near at hand, that first in anticipation, and then i_eality, it became henceforth her prime object of interest; and during the te_ays of their stay at Hartfield it was not to be expected—she did not hersel_xpect— that any thing beyond occasional, fortuitous assistance could b_fforded by her to the lovers. They might advance rapidly if they would,
  • however; they must advance somehow or other whether they would or no. Sh_ardly wished to have more leisure for them. There are people, who the mor_ou do for them, the less they will do for themselves.
  • Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley, from having been longer than usual absent fro_urry, were exciting of course rather more than the usual interest. Till thi_ear, every long vacation since their marriage had been divided betwee_artfield and Donwell Abbey; but all the holidays of this autumn had bee_iven to sea-bathing for the children, and it was therefore many months sinc_hey had been seen in a regular way by their Surry connexions, or seen at al_y Mr. Woodhouse, who could not be induced to get so far as London, even fo_oor Isabella's sake; and who consequently was now most nervously an_pprehensively happy in forestalling this too short visit.
  • He thought much of the evils of the journey for her, and not a little of th_atigues of his own horses and coachman who were to bring some of the part_he last half of the way; but his alarms were needless; the sixteen mile_eing happily accomplished, and Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley, their fiv_hildren, and a competent number of nursery-maids, all reaching Hartfield i_afety. The bustle and joy of such an arrival, the many to be talked to,
  • welcomed, encouraged, and variously dispersed and disposed of, produced _oise and confusion which his nerves could not have borne under any othe_ause, nor have endured much longer even for this; but the ways of Hartfiel_nd the feelings of her father were so respected by Mrs. John Knightley, tha_n spite of maternal solicitude for the immediate enjoyment of her littl_nes, and for their having instantly all the liberty and attendance, all th_ating and drinking, and sleeping and playing, which they could possibly wis_or, without the smallest delay, the children were never allowed to be long _isturbance to him, either in themselves or in any restless attendance o_hem.
  • Mrs. John Knightley was a pretty, elegant little woman, of gentle, quie_anners, and a disposition remarkably amiable and affectionate; wrapt up i_er family; a devoted wife, a doating mother, and so tenderly attached to he_ather and sister that, but for these higher ties, a warmer love might hav_eemed impossible. She could never see a fault in any of them. She was not _oman of strong understanding or any quickness; and with this resemblance o_er father, she inherited also much of his constitution; was delicate in he_wn health, over-careful of that of her children, had many fears and man_erves, and was as fond of her own Mr. Wingfield in town as her father coul_e of Mr. Perry. They were alike too, in a general benevolence of temper, an_ strong habit of regard for every old acquaintance.
  • Mr. John Knightley was a tall, gentleman-like, and very clever man; rising i_is profession, domestic, and respectable in his private character; but wit_eserved manners which prevented his being generally pleasing; and capable o_eing sometimes out of humour. He was not an ill-tempered man, not so ofte_nreasonably cross as to deserve such a reproach; but his temper was not hi_reat perfection; and, indeed, with such a worshipping wife, it was hardl_ossible that any natural defects in it should not be increased. The extrem_weetness of her temper must hurt his. He had all the clearness and quicknes_f mind which she wanted, and he could sometimes act an ungracious, or say _evere thing.
  • He was not a great favourite with his fair sister-in-law. Nothing wrong in hi_scaped her. She was quick in feeling the little injuries to Isabella, whic_sabella never felt herself. Perhaps she might have passed over more had hi_anners been flattering to Isabella's sister, but they were only those of _almly kind brother and friend, without praise and without blindness; bu_ardly any degree of personal compliment could have made her regardless o_hat greatest fault of all in her eyes which he sometimes fell into, the wan_f respectful forbearance towards her father. There he had not always th_atience that could have been wished. Mr. Woodhouse's peculiarities an_idgetiness were sometimes provoking him to a rational remonstrance or shar_etort equally ill-bestowed. It did not often happen; for Mr. John Knightle_ad really a great regard for his father-in-law, and generally a strong sens_f what was due to him; but it was too often for Emma's charity, especially a_here was all the pain of apprehension frequently to be endured, though th_ffence came not. The beginning, however, of every visit displayed none bu_he properest feelings, and this being of necessity so short might be hoped t_ass away in unsullied cordiality. They had not been long seated and compose_hen Mr. Woodhouse, with a melancholy shake of the head and a sigh, called hi_aughter's attention to the sad change at Hartfield since she had been ther_ast.
  • "Ah, my dear," said he, "poor Miss Taylor—It is a grievous business."
  • "Oh yes, sir," cried she with ready sympathy, "how you must miss her! And dea_mma, too!—What a dreadful loss to you both!— I have been so grieved fo_ou.—I could not imagine how you could possibly do without her.—It is a sa_hange indeed.—But I hope she is pretty well, sir."
  • "Pretty well, my dear—I hope—pretty well.—I do not know but that the plac_grees with her tolerably."
  • Mr. John Knightley here asked Emma quietly whether there were any doubts o_he air of Randalls.
  • "Oh! no—none in the least. I never saw Mrs. Weston better in my life— neve_ooking so well. Papa is only speaking his own regret."
  • "Very much to the honour of both," was the handsome reply.
  • "And do you see her, sir, tolerably often?" asked Isabella in the plaintiv_one which just suited her father.
  • Mr. Woodhouse hesitated.—"Not near so often, my dear, as I could wish."
  • "Oh! papa, we have missed seeing them but one entire day since they married.
  • Either in the morning or evening of every day, excepting one, have we see_ither Mr. Weston or Mrs. Weston, and generally both, either at Randalls o_ere—and as you may suppose, Isabella, most frequently here. They are very,
  • very kind in their visits. Mr. Weston is really as kind as herself. Papa, i_ou speak in that melancholy way, you will be giving Isabella a false idea o_s all. Every body must be aware that Miss Taylor must be missed, but ever_ody ought also to be assured that Mr. and Mrs. Weston do really prevent ou_issing her by any means to the extent we ourselves anticipated—which is th_xact truth."
  • "Just as it should be," said Mr. John Knightley, "and just as I hoped it wa_rom your letters. Her wish of shewing you attention could not be doubted, an_is being a disengaged and social man makes it all easy. I have been alway_elling you, my love, that I had no idea of the change being so very materia_o Hartfield as you apprehended; and now you have Emma's account, I hope yo_ill be satisfied."
  • "Why, to be sure," said Mr. Woodhouse—"yes, certainly—I cannot deny that Mrs.
  • Weston, poor Mrs. Weston, does come and see us pretty often— but then—she i_lways obliged to go away again."
  • "It would be very hard upon Mr. Weston if she did not, papa.— You quite forge_oor Mr. Weston."
  • "I think, indeed," said John Knightley pleasantly, "that Mr. Weston has som_ittle claim. You and I, Emma, will venture to take the part of the poo_usband. I, being a husband, and you not being a wife, the claims of the ma_ay very likely strike us with equal force. As for Isabella, she has bee_arried long enough to see the convenience of putting all the Mr. Weston_side as much as she can."
  • "Me, my love," cried his wife, hearing and understanding only in part.— "Ar_ou talking about me?—I am sure nobody ought to be, or can be, a greate_dvocate for matrimony than I am; and if it had not been for the misery of he_eaving Hartfield, I should never have thought of Miss Taylor but as the mos_ortunate woman in the world; and as to slighting Mr. Weston, that excellen_r. Weston, I think there is nothing he does not deserve. I believe he is on_f the very best-tempered men that ever existed. Excepting yourself and you_rother, I do not know his equal for temper. I shall never forget his flyin_enry's kite for him that very windy day last Easter—and ever since hi_articular kindness last September twelvemonth in writing that note, at twelv_'clock at night, on purpose to assure me that there was no scarlet fever a_obham, I have been convinced there could not be a more feeling heart nor _etter man in existence.—If any body can deserve him, it must be Miss Taylor."
  • "Where is the young man?" said John Knightley. "Has he been here on thi_ccasion—or has he not?"
  • "He has not been here yet," replied Emma. "There was a strong expectation o_is coming soon after the marriage, but it ended in nothing; and I have no_eard him mentioned lately."
  • "But you should tell them of the letter, my dear," said her father. "He wrot_ letter to poor Mrs. Weston, to congratulate her, and a very proper, handsom_etter it was. She shewed it to me. I thought it very well done of him indeed.
  • Whether it was his own idea you know, one cannot tell. He is but young, an_is uncle, perhaps—"
  • "My dear papa, he is three-and-twenty. You forget how time passes."
  • "Three-and-twenty!—is he indeed?—Well, I could not have thought it— and he wa_ut two years old when he lost his poor mother! Well, time does fl_ndeed!—and my memory is very bad. However, it was an exceeding good, prett_etter, and gave Mr. and Mrs. Weston a great deal of pleasure. I remember i_as written from Weymouth, and dated Sept. 28th—and began, `My dear Madam,'
  • but I forget how it went on; and it was signed `F. C. Weston Churchill.'— _emember that perfectly."
  • "How very pleasing and proper of him!" cried the good-hearted Mrs. Joh_nightley. "I have no doubt of his being a most amiable young man. But how sa_t is that he should not live at home with his father! There is something s_hocking in a child's being taken away from his parents and natural home! _ever could comprehend how Mr. Weston could part with him. To give up one'_hild! I really never could think well of any body who proposed such a thin_o any body else."
  • "Nobody ever did think well of the Churchills, I fancy," observed Mr. Joh_nightley coolly. "But you need not imagine Mr. Weston to have felt what yo_ould feel in giving up Henry or John. Mr. Weston is rather an easy, cheerful-
  • tempered man, than a man of strong feelings; he takes things as he finds them,
  • and makes enjoyment of them somehow or other, depending, I suspect, much mor_pon what is called society for his comforts, that is, upon the power o_ating and drinking, and playing whist with his neighbours five times a week,
  • than upon family affection, or any thing that home affords."
  • Emma could not like what bordered on a reflection on Mr. Weston, and had hal_ mind to take it up; but she struggled, and let it pass. She would keep th_eace if possible; and there was something honourable and valuable in th_trong domestic habits, the all-sufficiency of home to himself, whenc_esulted her brother's disposition to look down on the common rate of socia_ntercourse, and those to whom it was important.—It had a high claim t_orbearance.