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Chapter 14

  • Some change of countenance was necessary for each gentleman as they walke_nto Mrs. Weston's drawing-room;—Mr. Elton must compose his joyous looks, an_r. John Knightley disperse his ill-humour. Mr. Elton must smile less, and Mr.
  • John Knightley more, to fit them for the place.—Emma only might be as natur_rompted, and shew herself just as happy as she was. To her it was rea_njoyment to be with the Westons. Mr. Weston was a great favourite, and ther_as not a creature in the world to whom she spoke with such unreserve, as t_is wife; not any one, to whom she related with such conviction of bein_istened to and understood, of being always interesting and alway_ntelligible, the little affairs, arrangements, perplexities, and pleasures o_er father and herself. She could tell nothing of Hartfield, in which Mrs.
  • Weston had not a lively concern; and half an hour's uninterrupte_ommunication of all those little matters on which the daily happiness o_rivate life depends, was one of the first gratifications of each.
  • This was a pleasure which perhaps the whole day's visit might not afford,
  • which certainly did not belong to the present half-hour; but the very sight o_rs. Weston, her smile, her touch, her voice was grateful to Emma, and sh_etermined to think as little as possible of Mr. Elton's oddities, or of an_hing else unpleasant, and enjoy all that was enjoyable to the utmost.
  • The misfortune of Harriet's cold had been pretty well gone through before he_rrival. Mr. Woodhouse had been safely seated long enough to give the histor_f it, besides all the history of his own and Isabella's coming, and of Emma'_eing to follow, and had indeed just got to the end of his satisfaction tha_ames should come and see his daughter, when the others appeared, and Mrs.
  • Weston, who had been almost wholly engrossed by her attentions to him, wa_ble to turn away and welcome her dear Emma.
  • Emma's project of forgetting Mr. Elton for a while made her rather sorry t_ind, when they had all taken their places, that he was close to her. Th_ifficulty was great of driving his strange insensibility towards Harriet,
  • from her mind, while he not only sat at her elbow, but was continuall_btruding his happy countenance on her notice, and solicitously addressing he_pon every occasion. Instead of forgetting him, his behaviour was such tha_he could not avoid the internal suggestion of "Can it really be as my brothe_magined? can it be possible for this man to be beginning to transfer hi_ffections from Harriet to me?—Absurd and insufferable!"— Yet he would be s_nxious for her being perfectly warm, would be so interested about her father,
  • and so delighted with Mrs. Weston; and at last would begin admiring he_rawings with so much zeal and so little knowledge as seemed terribly like _ould-be lover, and made it some effort with her to preserve her good manners.
  • For her own sake she could not be rude; and for Harriet's, in the hope tha_ll would yet turn out right, she was even positively civil; but it was a_ffort; especially as something was going on amongst the others, in the mos_verpowering period of Mr. Elton's nonsense, which she particularly wished t_isten to. She heard enough to know that Mr. Weston was giving som_nformation about his son; she heard the words "my son," and "Frank," and "m_on," repeated several times over; and, from a few other half-syllables ver_uch suspected that he was announcing an early visit from his son; but befor_he could quiet Mr. Elton, the subject was so completely past that an_eviving question from her would have been awkward.
  • Now, it so happened that in spite of Emma's resolution of never marrying,
  • there was something in the name, in the idea of Mr. Frank Churchill, whic_lways interested her. She had frequently thought—especially since hi_ather's marriage with Miss Taylor—that if she were to marry, he was the ver_erson to suit her in age, character and condition. He seemed by thi_onnexion between the families, quite to belong to her. She could not bu_uppose it to be a match that every body who knew them must think of. That Mr.
  • and Mrs. Weston did think of it, she was very strongly persuaded; and thoug_ot meaning to be induced by him, or by any body else, to give up a situatio_hich she believed more replete with good than any she could change it for,
  • she had a great curiosity to see him, a decided intention of finding hi_leasant, of being liked by him to a certain degree, and a sort of pleasure i_he idea of their being coupled in their friends' imaginations.
  • With such sensations, Mr. Elton's civilities were dreadfully ill-timed; bu_he had the comfort of appearing very polite, while feeling very cross—and o_hinking that the rest of the visit could not possibly pass without bringin_orward the same information again, or the substance of it, from the open-
  • hearted Mr. Weston.—So it proved;— for when happily released from Mr. Elton,
  • and seated by Mr. Weston, at dinner, he made use of the very first interval i_he cares of hospitality, the very first leisure from the saddle of mutton, t_ay to her,
  • "We want only two more to be just the right number. I should like to see tw_ore here,—your pretty little friend, Miss Smith, and my son—and then I shoul_ay we were quite complete. I believe you did not hear me telling the other_n the drawing-room that we are expecting Frank. I had a letter from him thi_orning, and he will be with us within a fortnight."
  • Emma spoke with a very proper degree of pleasure; and fully assented to hi_roposition of Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss Smith making their party quit_omplete.
  • "He has been wanting to come to us," continued Mr. Weston, "ever sinc_eptember: every letter has been full of it; but he cannot command his ow_ime. He has those to please who must be pleased, and who (between ourselves)
  • are sometimes to be pleased only by a good many sacrifices. But now I have n_oubt of seeing him here about the second week in January."
  • "What a very great pleasure it will be to you! and Mrs. Weston is so anxiou_o be acquainted with him, that she must be almost as happy as yourself."
  • "Yes, she would be, but that she thinks there will be another put-off. Sh_oes not depend upon his coming so much as I do: but she does not know th_arties so well as I do. The case, you see, is—(but this is quite betwee_urselves: I did not mention a syllable of it in the other room. There ar_ecrets in all families, you know)—The case is, that a party of friends ar_nvited to pay a visit at Enscombe in January; and that Frank's coming depend_pon their being put off. If they are not put off, he cannot stir. But I kno_hey will, because it is a family that a certain lady, of some consequence, a_nscombe, has a particular dislike to: and though it is thought necessary t_nvite them once in two or three years, they always are put off when it come_o the point. I have not the smallest doubt of the issue. I am as confident o_eeing Frank here before the middle of January, as I am of being here myself:
  • but your good friend there (nodding towards the upper end of the table) has s_ew vagaries herself, and has been so little used to them at Hartfield, tha_he cannot calculate on their effects, as I have been long in the practice o_oing."
  • "I am sorry there should be any thing like doubt in the case," replied Emma;
  • "but am disposed to side with you, Mr. Weston. If you think he will come, _hall think so too; for you know Enscombe."
  • "Yes—I have some right to that knowledge; though I have never been at th_lace in my life.—She is an odd woman!—But I never allow myself to speak il_f her, on Frank's account; for I do believe her to be very fond of him. _sed to think she was not capable of being fond of any body, except herself:
  • but she has always been kind to him (in her way—allowing for little whims an_aprices, and expecting every thing to be as she likes). And it is no smal_redit, in my opinion, to him, that he should excite such an affection; for,
  • though I would not say it to any body else, she has no more heart than a ston_o people in general; and the devil of a temper."
  • Emma liked the subject so well, that she began upon it, to Mrs. Weston, ver_oon after their moving into the drawing-room: wishing her joy— yet observing,
  • that she knew the first meeting must be rather alarming.— Mrs. Weston agree_o it; but added, that she should be very glad to be secure of undergoing th_nxiety of a first meeting at the time talked of: "for I cannot depend upo_is coming. I cannot be so sanguine as Mr. Weston. I am very much afraid tha_t will all end in nothing. Mr. Weston, I dare say, has been telling yo_xactly how the matter stands?"
  • "Yes—it seems to depend upon nothing but the ill-humour of Mrs. Churchill,
  • which I imagine to be the most certain thing in the world."
  • "My Emma!" replied Mrs. Weston, smiling, "what is the certainty of caprice?"
  • Then turning to Isabella, who had not been attending before—"You must know, m_ear Mrs. Knightley, that we are by no means so sure of seeing Mr. Fran_hurchill, in my opinion, as his father thinks. It depends entirely upon hi_unt's spirits and pleasure; in short, upon her temper. To you—to my tw_aughters—I may venture on the truth. Mrs. Churchill rules at Enscombe, and i_ very odd-tempered woman; and his coming now, depends upon her being willin_o spare him."
  • "Oh, Mrs. Churchill; every body knows Mrs. Churchill," replied Isabella: "an_ am sure I never think of that poor young man without the greates_ompassion. To be constantly living with an ill-tempered person, must b_readful. It is what we happily have never known any thing of; but it must b_ life of misery. What a blessing, that she never had any children! Poo_ittle creatures, how unhappy she would have made them!"
  • Emma wished she had been alone with Mrs. Weston. She should then have hear_ore: Mrs. Weston would speak to her, with a degree of unreserve which sh_ould not hazard with Isabella; and, she really believed, would scarcely tr_o conceal any thing relative to the Churchills from her, excepting thos_iews on the young man, of which her own imagination had already given he_uch instinctive knowledge. But at present there was nothing more to be said.
  • Mr. Woodhouse very soon followed them into the drawing-room. To be sittin_ong after dinner, was a confinement that he could not endure. Neither win_or conversation was any thing to him; and gladly did he move to those wit_hom he was always comfortable.
  • While he talked to Isabella, however, Emma found an opportunity of saying,
  • "And so you do not consider this visit from your son as by any means certain.
  • I am sorry for it. The introduction must be unpleasant, whenever it take_lace; and the sooner it could be over, the better."
  • "Yes; and every delay makes one more apprehensive of other delays. Even i_his family, the Braithwaites, are put off, I am still afraid that some excus_ay be found for disappointing us. I cannot bear to imagine any reluctance o_is side; but I am sure there is a great wish on the Churchills' to keep hi_o themselves. There is jealousy. They are jealous even of his regard for hi_ather. In short, I can feel no dependence on his coming, and I wish Mr.
  • Weston were less sanguine."
  • "He ought to come," said Emma. "If he could stay only a couple of days, h_ught to come; and one can hardly conceive a young man's not having it in hi_ower to do as much as that. A young woman, if she fall into bad hands, may b_eazed, and kept at a distance from those she wants to be with; but one canno_omprehend a young man's being under such restraint, as not to be able t_pend a week with his father, if he likes it."
  • "One ought to be at Enscombe, and know the ways of the family, before on_ecides upon what he can do," replied Mrs. Weston. "One ought to use the sam_aution, perhaps, in judging of the conduct of any one individual of any on_amily; but Enscombe, I believe, certainly must not be judged by genera_ules: she is so very unreasonable; and every thing gives way to her."
  • "But she is so fond of the nephew: he is so very great a favourite. Now,
  • according to my idea of Mrs. Churchill, it would be most natural, that whil_he makes no sacrifice for the comfort of the husband, to whom she owes ever_hing, while she exercises incessant caprice towards him, she shoul_requently be governed by the nephew, to whom she owes nothing at all."
  • "My dearest Emma, do not pretend, with your sweet temper, to understand a ba_ne, or to lay down rules for it: you must let it go its own way. I have n_oubt of his having, at times, considerable influence; but it may be perfectl_mpossible for him to know beforehand when it will be."
  • Emma listened, and then coolly said, "I shall not be satisfied, unless h_omes."
  • "He may have a great deal of influence on some points," continued Mrs. Weston,
  • "and on others, very little: and among those, on which she is beyond hi_each, it is but too likely, may be this very circumstance of his coming awa_rom them to visit us."