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Chapter 18

  • "I hope I shall soon have the pleasure of introducing my son to you," said Mr.
  • Weston.
  • Mrs. Elton, very willing to suppose a particular compliment intended her b_uch a hope, smiled most graciously.
  • "You have heard of a certain Frank Churchill, I presume," he continued— "an_now him to be my son, though he does not bear my name."
  • "Oh! yes, and I shall be very happy in his acquaintance. I am sure Mr. Elto_ill lose no time in calling on him; and we shall both have great pleasure i_eeing him at the Vicarage."
  • "You are very obliging.—Frank will be extremely happy, I am sure.— He is to b_n town next week, if not sooner. We have notice of it in a letter to-day. _et the letters in my way this morning, and seeing my son's hand, presumed t_pen it—though it was not directed to me—it was to Mrs. Weston. She is hi_rincipal correspondent, I assure you. I hardly ever get a letter."
  • "And so you absolutely opened what was directed to her! Oh! Mr. Weston— (laughing affectedly) I must protest against that.—A most dangerous preceden_ndeed!—I beg you will not let your neighbours follow your example.—Upon m_ord, if this is what I am to expect, we married women must begin to exer_urselves!—Oh! Mr. Weston, I could not have believed it of you!"
  • "Aye, we men are sad fellows. You must take care of yourself, Mrs. Elton.—Thi_etter tells us—it is a short letter—written in a hurry, merely to give u_otice—it tells us that they are all coming up to town directly, on Mrs.
  • Churchill's account—she has not been well the whole winter, and think_nscombe too cold for her— so they are all to move southward without loss o_ime."
  • "Indeed!—from Yorkshire, I think. Enscombe is in Yorkshire?"
  • "Yes, they are about one hundred and ninety miles from London. a considerabl_ourney."
  • "Yes, upon my word, very considerable. Sixty-five miles farther than fro_aple Grove to London. But what is distance, Mr. Weston, to people of larg_ortune?—You would be amazed to hear how my brother, Mr. Suckling, sometime_lies about. You will hardly believe me— but twice in one week he and Mr.
  • Bragge went to London and back again with four horses."
  • "The evil of the distance from Enscombe," said Mr. Weston, "is, that Mrs.
  • Churchill, as we understand, has not been able to leave the sofa for a wee_ogether. In Frank's last letter she complained, he said, of being too weak t_et into her conservatory without having both his arm and his uncle's! This, you know, speaks a great degree of weakness—but now she is so impatient to b_n town, that she means to sleep only two nights on the road.—So Frank write_ord. Certainly, delicate ladies have very extraordinary constitutions, Mrs.
  • Elton. You must grant me that."
  • "No, indeed, I shall grant you nothing. I Always take the part of my own sex.
  • I do indeed. I give you notice—You will find me a formidable antagonist o_hat point. I always stand up for women— and I assure you, if you knew ho_elina feels with respect to sleeping at an inn, you would not wonder at Mrs.
  • Churchill's making incredible exertions to avoid it. Selina says it is quit_orror to her—and I believe I have caught a little of her nicety. She alway_ravels with her own sheets; an excellent precaution. Does Mrs. Churchill d_he same?"
  • "Depend upon it, Mrs. Churchill does every thing that any other fine lady eve_id. Mrs. Churchill will not be second to any lady in the land for"—
  • Mrs. Elton eagerly interposed with,
  • "Oh! Mr. Weston, do not mistake me. Selina is no fine lady, I assure you. D_ot run away with such an idea."
  • "Is not she? Then she is no rule for Mrs. Churchill, who is as thorough a fin_ady as any body ever beheld."
  • Mrs. Elton began to think she had been wrong in disclaiming so warmly. It wa_y no means her object to have it believed that her sister was not a fin_ady; perhaps there was want of spirit in the pretence of it;—and she wa_onsidering in what way she had best retract, when Mr. Weston went on.
  • "Mrs. Churchill is not much in my good graces, as you may suspect— but this i_uite between ourselves. She is very fond of Frank, and therefore I would no_peak ill of her. Besides, she is out of health now; but that indeed, by he_wn account, she has always been. I would not say so to every body, Mrs.
  • Elton, but I have not much faith in Mrs. Churchill's illness."
  • "If she is really ill, why not go to Bath, Mr. Weston?—To Bath, or t_lifton?" "She has taken it into her head that Enscombe is too cold for her.
  • The fact is, I suppose, that she is tired of Enscombe. She has now been _onger time stationary there, than she ever was before, and she begins to wan_hange. It is a retired place. A fine place, but very retired."
  • "Aye—like Maple Grove, I dare say. Nothing can stand more retired from th_oad than Maple Grove. Such an immense plantation all round it! You seem shu_ut from every thing—in the most complete retirement.— And Mrs. Churchil_robably has not health or spirits like Selina to enjoy that sort o_eclusion. Or, perhaps she may not have resources enough in herself to b_ualified for a country life. I always say a woman cannot have too man_esources—and I feel very thankful that I have so many myself as to be quit_ndependent of society."
  • "Frank was here in February for a fortnight."
  • "So I remember to have heard. He will find an addition to the society o_ighbury when he comes again; that is, if I may presume to call myself a_ddition. But perhaps he may never have heard of there being such a creatur_n the world."
  • This was too loud a call for a compliment to be passed by, and Mr. Weston, with a very good grace, immediately exclaimed,
  • "My dear madam! Nobody but yourself could imagine such a thing possible. No_eard of you!—I believe Mrs. Weston's letters lately have been full of ver_ittle else than Mrs. Elton."
  • He had done his duty and could return to his son.
  • "When Frank left us," continued he, "it was quite uncertain when we might se_im again, which makes this day's news doubly welcome. It has been completel_nexpected. That is, I always had a strong persuasion he would be here agai_oon, I was sure something favourable would turn up—but nobody believed me. H_nd Mrs. Weston were both dreadfully desponding. `How could he contrive t_ome? And how could it be supposed that his uncle and aunt would spare hi_gain?' and so forth—I always felt that something would happen in our favour; and so it has, you see. I have observed, Mrs. Elton, in the course of my life, that if things are going untowardly one month, they are sure to mend th_ext."
  • "Very true, Mr. Weston, perfectly true. It is just what I used to say to _ertain gentleman in company in the days of courtship, when, because thing_id not go quite right, did not proceed with all the rapidity which suited hi_eelings, he was apt to be in despair, and exclaim that he was sure at thi_ate it would be May before Hymen's saffron robe would be put on for us. Oh!
  • the pains I have been at to dispel those gloomy ideas and give him cheerfulle_iews! The carriage—we had disappointments about the carriage;—one morning, _emember, he came to me quite in despair."
  • She was stopped by a slight fit of coughing, and Mr. Weston instantly seize_he opportunity of going on.
  • "You were mentioning May. May is the very month which Mrs. Churchill i_rdered, or has ordered herself, to spend in some warmer place tha_nscombe—in short, to spend in London; so that we have the agreeable prospec_f frequent visits from Frank the whole spring— precisely the season of th_ear which one should have chosen for it: days almost at the longest; weathe_enial and pleasant, always inviting one out, and never too hot for exercise.
  • When he was here before, we made the best of it; but there was a good deal o_et, damp, cheerless weather; there always is in February, you know, and w_ould not do half that we intended. Now will be the time. This will b_omplete enjoyment; and I do not know, Mrs. Elton, whether the uncertainty o_ur meetings, the sort of constant expectation there will be of his coming i_o-day or to-morrow, and at any hour, may not be more friendly to happines_han having him actually in the house. I think it is so. I think it is th_tate of mind which gives most spirit and delight. I hope you will be please_ith my son; but you must not expect a prodigy. He is generally thought a fin_oung man, but do not expect a prodigy. Mrs. Weston's partiality for him i_ery great, and, as you may suppose, most gratifying to me. She thinks nobod_qual to him."
  • "And I assure you, Mr. Weston, I have very little doubt that my opinion wil_e decidedly in his favour. I have heard so much in praise of Mr. Fran_hurchill.—At the same time it is fair to observe, that I am one of those wh_lways judge for themselves, and are by no means implicitly guided by others.
  • I give you notice that as I find your son, so I shall judge of him.—I am n_latterer."
  • Mr. Weston was musing.
  • "I hope," said he presently, "I have not been severe upon poor Mrs. Churchill.
  • If she is ill I should be sorry to do her injustice; but there are some trait_n her character which make it difficult for me to speak of her with th_orbearance I could wish. You cannot be ignorant, Mrs. Elton, of my connexio_ith the family, nor of the treatment I have met with; and, between ourselves, the whole blame of it is to be laid to her. She was the instigator. Frank'_other would never have been slighted as she was but for her. Mr. Churchil_as pride; but his pride is nothing to his wife's: his is a quiet, indolent, gentlemanlike sort of pride that would harm nobody, and only make himself _ittle helpless and tiresome; but her pride is arrogance and insolence! An_hat inclines one less to bear, she has no fair pretence of family or blood.
  • She was nobody when he married her, barely the daughter of a gentleman; bu_ver since her being turned into a Churchill she has out-Churchill'd them al_n high and mighty claims: but in herself, I assure you, she is an upstart."
  • "Only think! well, that must be infinitely provoking! I have quite a horror o_pstarts. Maple Grove has given me a thorough disgust to people of that sort; for there is a family in that neighbourhood who are such an annoyance to m_rother and sister from the airs they give themselves! Your description o_rs. Churchill made me think of them directly. People of the name of Tupman, very lately settled there, and encumbered with many low connexions, but givin_hemselves immense airs, and expecting to be on a footing with the ol_stablished families. A year and a half is the very utmost that they can hav_ived at West Hall; and how they got their fortune nobody knows. They cam_rom Birmingham, which is not a place to promise much, you know, Mr. Weston.
  • One has not great hopes from Birmingham. I always say there is somethin_ireful in the sound: but nothing more is positively known of the Tupmans, though a good many things I assure you are suspected; and yet by their manner_hey evidently think themselves equal even to my brother, Mr. Suckling, wh_appens to be one of their nearest neighbours. It is infinitely too bad. Mr.
  • Suckling, who has been eleven years a resident at Maple Grove, and whos_ather had it before him—I believe, at least—I am almost sure that old Mr.
  • Suckling had completed the purchase before his death."
  • They were interrupted. Tea was carrying round, and Mr. Weston, having said al_hat he wanted, soon took the opportunity of walking away.
  • After tea, Mr. and Mrs. Weston, and Mr. Elton sat down with Mr. Woodhouse t_ards. The remaining five were left to their own powers, and Emma doubte_heir getting on very well; for Mr. Knightley seemed little disposed fo_onversation; Mrs. Elton was wanting notice, which nobody had inclination t_ay, and she was herself in a worry of spirits which would have made he_refer being silent.
  • Mr. John Knightley proved more talkative than his brother. He was to leav_hem early the next day; and he soon began with—
  • "Well, Emma, I do not believe I have any thing more to say about the boys; bu_ou have your sister's letter, and every thing is down at full length there w_ay be sure. My charge would be much more concise than her's, and probably no_uch in the same spirit; all that I have to recommend being comprised in, d_ot spoil them, and do not physic them."
  • "I rather hope to satisfy you both," said Emma, "for I shall do all in m_ower to make them happy, which will be enough for Isabella; and happines_ust preclude false indulgence and physic."
  • "And if you find them troublesome, you must send them home again."
  • "That is very likely. You think so, do not you?"
  • "I hope I am aware that they may be too noisy for your father— or even may b_ome encumbrance to you, if your visiting engagements continue to increase a_uch as they have done lately."
  • "Increase!"
  • "Certainly; you must be sensible that the last half-year has made a grea_ifference in your way of life."
  • "Difference! No indeed I am not."
  • "There can be no doubt of your being much more engaged with company than yo_sed to be. Witness this very time. Here am I come down for only one day, an_ou are engaged with a dinner-party!— When did it happen before, or any thin_ike it? Your neighbourhood is increasing, and you mix more with it. A littl_hile ago, every letter to Isabella brought an account of fresh gaieties; dinners at Mr. Cole's, or balls at the Crown. The difference which Randalls, Randalls alone makes in your goings-on, is very great."
  • "Yes," said his brother quickly, "it is Randalls that does it all."
  • "Very well—and as Randalls, I suppose, is not likely to have less influenc_han heretofore, it strikes me as a possible thing, Emma, that Henry and Joh_ay be sometimes in the way. And if they are, I only beg you to send the_ome."
  • "No," cried Mr. Knightley, "that need not be the consequence. Let them be sen_o Donwell. I shall certainly be at leisure."
  • "Upon my word," exclaimed Emma, "you amuse me! I should like to know how man_f all my numerous engagements take place without your being of the party; an_hy I am to be supposed in danger of wanting leisure to attend to the littl_oys. These amazing engagements of mine— what have they been? Dining once wit_he Coles—and having a ball talked of, which never took place. I ca_nderstand you—(nodding at Mr. John Knightley)—your good fortune in meetin_ith so many of your friends at once here, delights you too much to pas_nnoticed. But you, (turning to Mr. Knightley,) who know how very, very seldo_ am ever two hours from Hartfield, why you should foresee such a series o_issipation for me, I cannot imagine. And as to my dear little boys, I mus_ay, that if Aunt Emma has not time for them, I do not think they would far_uch better with Uncle Knightley, who is absent from home about five hour_here she is absent one— and who, when he is at home, is either reading t_imself or settling his accounts."
  • Mr. Knightley seemed to be trying not to smile; and succeeded withou_ifficulty, upon Mrs. Elton's beginning to talk to him.