Mr. Knightley was to dine with them—rather against the inclination of Mr.
Woodhouse, who did not like that any one should share with him in Isabella'_irst day. Emma's sense of right however had decided it; and besides th_onsideration of what was due to each brother, she had particular pleasure, from the circumstance of the late disagreement between Mr. Knightley an_erself, in procuring him the proper invitation.
She hoped they might now become friends again. She thought it was time to mak_p. Making-up indeed would not do. She certainly had not been in the wrong, and he would never own that he had. Concession must be out of the question; but it was time to appear to forget that they had ever quarrelled; and sh_oped it might rather assist the restoration of friendship, that when he cam_nto the room she had one of the children with her—the youngest, a nice littl_irl about eight months old, who was now making her first visit to Hartfield, and very happy to be danced about in her aunt's arms. It did assist; fo_hough he began with grave looks and short questions, he was soon led on t_alk of them all in the usual way, and to take the child out of her arms wit_ll the unceremoniousness of perfect amity. Emma felt they were friends again; and the conviction giving her at first great satisfaction, and then a littl_auciness, she could not help saying, as he was admiring the baby,
"What a comfort it is, that we think alike about our nephews and nieces. As t_en and women, our opinions are sometimes very different; but with regard t_hese children, I observe we never disagree."
"If you were as much guided by nature in your estimate of men and women, an_s little under the power of fancy and whim in your dealings with them, as yo_re where these children are concerned, we might always think alike."
"To be sure—our discordancies must always arise from my being in the wrong."
"Yes," said he, smiling—"and reason good. I was sixteen years old when yo_ere born."
"A material difference then," she replied—"and no doubt you were much m_uperior in judgment at that period of our lives; but does not the lapse o_ne-and-twenty years bring our understandings a good deal nearer?"
"Yes—a good deal nearer."
"But still, not near enough to give me a chance of being right, if we thin_ifferently."
"I have still the advantage of you by sixteen years' experience, and by no_eing a pretty young woman and a spoiled child. Come, my dear Emma, let us b_riends, and say no more about it. Tell your aunt, little Emma, that she ough_o set you a better example than to be renewing old grievances, and that i_he were not wrong before, she is now."
"That's true," she cried—"very true. Little Emma, grow up a better woman tha_our aunt. Be infinitely cleverer and not half so conceited. Now, Mr.
Knightley, a word or two more, and I have done. As far as good intention_ent, we were both right, and I must say that no effects on my side of th_rgument have yet proved wrong. I only want to know that Mr. Martin is no_ery, very bitterly disappointed."
"A man cannot be more so," was his short, full answer.
"Ah!—Indeed I am very sorry.—Come, shake hands with me."
This had just taken place and with great cordiality, when John Knightley mad_is appearance, and "How d'ye do, George?" and "John, how are you?" succeede_n the true English style, burying under a calmness that seemed all bu_ndifference, the real attachment which would have led either of them, i_equisite, to do every thing for the good of the other.
The evening was quiet and conversable, as Mr. Woodhouse declined card_ntirely for the sake of comfortable talk with his dear Isabella, and th_ittle party made two natural divisions; on one side he and his daughter; o_he other the two Mr. Knightleys; their subjects totally distinct, or ver_arely mixing—and Emma only occasionally joining in one or the other.
The brothers talked of their own concerns and pursuits, but principally o_hose of the elder, whose temper was by much the most communicative, and wh_as always the greater talker. As a magistrate, he had generally some point o_aw to consult John about, or, at least, some curious anecdote to give; and a_ farmer, as keeping in hand the home-farm at Donwell, he had to tell wha_very field was to bear next year, and to give all such local information a_ould not fail of being interesting to a brother whose home it had equall_een the longest part of his life, and whose attachments were strong. The pla_f a drain, the change of a fence, the felling of a tree, and the destinatio_f every acre for wheat, turnips, or spring corn, was entered into with a_uch equality of interest by John, as his cooler manners rendered possible; and if his willing brother ever left him any thing to inquire about, hi_nquiries even approached a tone of eagerness.
While they were thus comfortably occupied, Mr. Woodhouse was enjoying a ful_low of happy regrets and fearful affection with his daughter.
"My poor dear Isabella," said he, fondly taking her hand, and interrupting, for a few moments, her busy labours for some one of her five children—"Ho_ong it is, how terribly long since you were here! And how tired you must b_fter your journey! You must go to bed early, my dear—and I recommend a littl_ruel to you before you go.—You and I will have a nice basin of grue_ogether. My dear Emma, suppose we all have a little gruel."
Emma could not suppose any such thing, knowing as she did, that both the Mr.
Knightleys were as unpersuadable on that article as herself;—and two basin_nly were ordered. After a little more discourse in praise of gruel, with som_ondering at its not being taken every evening by every body, he proceeded t_ay, with an air of grave reflection,
"It was an awkward business, my dear, your spending the autumn at South En_nstead of coming here. I never had much opinion of the sea air."
"Mr. Wingfield most strenuously recommended it, sir—or we should not hav_one. He recommended it for all the children, but particularly for th_eakness in little Bella's throat,— both sea air and bathing."
"Ah! my dear, but Perry had many doubts about the sea doing her any good; an_s to myself, I have been long perfectly convinced, though perhaps I neve_old you so before, that the sea is very rarely of use to any body. I am sur_t almost killed me once."
"Come, come," cried Emma, feeling this to be an unsafe subject, "I must be_ou not to talk of the sea. It makes me envious and miserable;— I who hav_ever seen it! South End is prohibited, if you please. My dear Isabella, _ave not heard you make one inquiry about Mr. Perry yet; and he never forget_ou."
"Oh! good Mr. Perry—how is he, sir?"
"Why, pretty well; but not quite well. Poor Perry is bilious, and he has no_ime to take care of himself—he tells me he has not time to take care o_imself—which is very sad—but he is always wanted all round the country. _uppose there is not a man in such practice anywhere. But then there is not s_lever a man any where."
"And Mrs. Perry and the children, how are they? do the children grow? I have _reat regard for Mr. Perry. I hope he will be calling soon. He will be s_leased to see my little ones."
"I hope he will be here to-morrow, for I have a question or two to ask hi_bout myself of some consequence. And, my dear, whenever he comes, you ha_etter let him look at little Bella's throat."
"Oh! my dear sir, her throat is so much better that I have hardly an_neasiness about it. Either bathing has been of the greatest service to her, or else it is to be attributed to an excellent embrocation of Mr. Wingfield's, which we have been applying at times ever since August."
"It is not very likely, my dear, that bathing should have been of use t_er—and if I had known you were wanting an embrocation, I would have spoke_o—
"You seem to me to have forgotten Mrs. and Miss Bates," said Emma, "I have no_eard one inquiry after them."
"Oh! the good Bateses—I am quite ashamed of myself—but you mention them i_ost of your letters. I hope they are quite well. Good old Mrs. Bates—I wil_all upon her to-morrow, and take my children.—They are always so pleased t_ee my children.— And that excellent Miss Bates!—such thorough worthy people!— How are they, sir?"
"Why, pretty well, my dear, upon the whole. But poor Mrs. Bates had a bad col_bout a month ago."
"How sorry I am! But colds were never so prevalent as they have been thi_utumn. Mr. Wingfield told me that he has never known them more general o_eavy—except when it has been quite an influenza."
"That has been a good deal the case, my dear; but not to the degree yo_ention. Perry says that colds have been very general, but not so heavy as h_as very often known them in November. Perry does not call it altogether _ickly season."
"No, I do not know that Mr. Wingfield considers it very sickly except—
"Ah! my poor dear child, the truth is, that in London it is always a sickl_eason. Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be. It is a dreadful thing t_ave you forced to live there! so far off!— and the air so bad!"
"No, indeed—we are not at all in a bad air. Our part of London is ver_uperior to most others!—You must not confound us with London in general, m_ear sir. The neighbourhood of Brunswick Square is very different from almos_ll the rest. We are so very airy! I should be unwilling, I own, to live i_ny other part of the town;— there is hardly any other that I could b_atisfied to have my children in: but we are so remarkably airy!—Mr. Wingfiel_hinks the vicinity of Brunswick Square decidedly the most favourable as t_ir."
"Ah! my dear, it is not like Hartfield. You make the best of it— but after yo_ave been a week at Hartfield, you are all of you different creatures; you d_ot look like the same. Now I cannot say, that I think you are any of yo_ooking well at present."
"I am sorry to hear you say so, sir; but I assure you, excepting those littl_ervous head-aches and palpitations which I am never entirely free fro_nywhere, I am quite well myself; and if the children were rather pale befor_hey went to bed, it was only because they were a little more tired tha_sual, from their journey and the happiness of coming. I hope you will thin_etter of their looks to-morrow; for I assure you Mr. Wingfield told me, tha_e did not believe he had ever sent us off altogether, in such good case. _rust, at least, that you do not think Mr. Knightley looking ill," turning he_yes with affectionate anxiety towards her husband.
"Middling, my dear; I cannot compliment you. I think Mr. John Knightley ver_ar from looking well."
"What is the matter, sir?—Did you speak to me?" cried Mr. John Knightley, hearing his own name.
"I am sorry to find, my love, that my father does not think you lookin_ell—but I hope it is only from being a little fatigued. I could have wished, however, as you know, that you had seen Mr. Wingfield before you left home."
"My dear Isabella,"—exclaimed he hastily—"pray do not concern yourself abou_y looks. Be satisfied with doctoring and coddling yourself and the children, and let me look as I chuse."
"I did not thoroughly understand what you were telling your brother," crie_mma, "about your friend Mr. Graham's intending to have a bailiff fro_cotland, to look after his new estate. What will it answer? Will not the ol_rejudice be too strong?"
And she talked in this way so long and successfully that, when forced to giv_er attention again to her father and sister, she had nothing worse to hea_han Isabella's kind inquiry after Jane Fairfax; and Jane Fairfax, though n_reat favourite with her in general, she was at that moment very happy t_ssist in praising.
"That sweet, amiable Jane Fairfax!" said Mrs. John Knightley.— "It is so lon_ince I have seen her, except now and then for a moment accidentally in town!
What happiness it must be to her good old grandmother and excellent aunt, whe_he comes to visit them! I always regret excessively on dear Emma's accoun_hat she cannot be more at Highbury; but now their daughter is married, _uppose Colonel and Mrs. Campbell will not be able to part with her at all.
She would be such a delightful companion for Emma."
Mr. Woodhouse agreed to it all, but added,
"Our little friend Harriet Smith, however, is just such another pretty kind o_oung person. You will like Harriet. Emma could not have a better companio_han Harriet."
"I am most happy to hear it—but only Jane Fairfax one knows to be so ver_ccomplished and superior!—and exactly Emma's age."
This topic was discussed very happily, and others succeeded of similar moment, and passed away with similar harmony; but the evening did not close without _ittle return of agitation. The gruel came and supplied a great deal to b_aid—much praise and many comments— undoubting decision of its wholesomenes_or every constitution, and pretty severe Philippics upon the many house_here it was never met with tolerable;—but, unfortunately, among the failure_hich the daughter had to instance, the most recent, and therefore mos_rominent, was in her own cook at South End, a young woman hired for the time, who never had been able to understand what she meant by a basin of nice smoot_ruel, thin, but not too thin. Often as she had wished for and ordered it, sh_ad never been able to get any thing tolerable. Here was a dangerous opening.
"Ah!" said Mr. Woodhouse, shaking his head and fixing his eyes on her wit_ender concern.—The ejaculation in Emma's ear expressed, "Ah! there is no en_f the sad consequences of your going to South End. It does not bear talkin_f." And for a little while she hoped he would not talk of it, and that _ilent rumination might suffice to restore him to the relish of his own smoot_ruel. After an interval of some minutes, however, he began with,
"I shall always be very sorry that you went to the sea this autumn, instead o_oming here."
"But why should you be sorry, sir?—I assure you, it did the children a grea_eal of good."
"And, moreover, if you must go to the sea, it had better not have been t_outh End. South End is an unhealthy place. Perry was surprized to hear yo_ad fixed upon South End."
"I know there is such an idea with many people, but indeed it is quite _istake, sir.—We all had our health perfectly well there, never found th_east inconvenience from the mud; and Mr. Wingfield says it is entirely _istake to suppose the place unhealthy; and I am sure he may be depended on, for he thoroughly understands the nature of the air, and his own brother an_amily have been there repeatedly."
"You should have gone to Cromer, my dear, if you went anywhere.— Perry was _eek at Cromer once, and he holds it to be the best of all the sea-bathin_laces. A fine open sea, he says, and very pure air. And, by what _nderstand, you might have had lodgings there quite away from the sea—_uarter of a mile off—very comfortable. You should have consulted Perry."
"But, my dear sir, the difference of the journey;—only consider how great i_ould have been.—An hundred miles, perhaps, instead of forty."
"Ah! my dear, as Perry says, where health is at stake, nothing else should b_onsidered; and if one is to travel, there is not much to chuse between fort_iles and an hundred.—Better not move at all, better stay in London altogethe_han travel forty miles to get into a worse air. This is just what Perry said.
It seemed to him a very ill-judged measure."
Emma's attempts to stop her father had been vain; and when he had reached suc_ point as this, she could not wonder at her brother-in-law's breaking out.
"Mr. Perry," said he, in a voice of very strong displeasure, "would do as wel_o keep his opinion till it is asked for. Why does he make it any business o_is, to wonder at what I do?— at my taking my family to one part of the coas_r another?—I may be allowed, I hope, the use of my judgment as well as Mr.
Perry.— I want his directions no more than his drugs." He paused— and growin_ooler in a moment, added, with only sarcastic dryness, "If Mr. Perry can tel_e how to convey a wife and five children a distance of an hundred and thirt_iles with no greater expense or inconvenience than a distance of forty, _hould be as willing to prefer Cromer to South End as he could himself."
"True, true," cried Mr. Knightley, with most ready interposition— "very true.
That's a consideration indeed.—But John, as to what I was telling you of m_dea of moving the path to Langham, of turning it more to the right that i_ay not cut through the home meadows, I cannot conceive any difficulty. _hould not attempt it, if it were to be the means of inconvenience to th_ighbury people, but if you call to mind exactly the present line of the path… . The only way of proving it, however, will be to turn to our maps. I shal_ee you at the Abbey to-morrow morning I hope, and then we will look the_ver, and you shall give me your opinion."
Mr. Woodhouse was rather agitated by such harsh reflections on his frien_erry, to whom he had, in fact, though unconsciously, been attributing many o_is own feelings and expressions;— but the soothing attentions of hi_aughters gradually removed the present evil, and the immediate alertness o_ne brother, and better recollections of the other, prevented any renewal o_t.