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Chapter 2

  • No misfortune occurred, again to prevent the ball. The day approached, the da_rrived; and after a morning of some anxious watching, Frank Churchill, in al_he certainty of his own self, reached Randalls before dinner, and every thin_as safe.
  • No second meeting had there yet been between him and Emma. The room at th_rown was to witness it;—but it would be better than a common meeting in _rowd. Mr. Weston had been so very earnest in his entreaties for her arrivin_here as soon as possible after themselves, for the purpose of taking he_pinion as to the propriety and comfort of the rooms before any other person_ame, that she could not refuse him, and must therefore spend some quie_nterval in the young man's company. She was to convey Harriet, and they drov_o the Crown in good time, the Randalls party just sufficiently before them.
  • Frank Churchill seemed to have been on the watch; and though he did not sa_uch, his eyes declared that he meant to have a delightful evening. They al_alked about together, to see that every thing was as it should be; and withi_ few minutes were joined by the contents of another carriage, which Emm_ould not hear the sound of at first, without great surprize. "So unreasonabl_arly!" she was going to exclaim; but she presently found that it was a famil_f old friends, who were coming, like herself, by particular desire, to hel_r. Weston's judgment; and they were so very closely followed by anothe_arriage of cousins, who had been entreated to come early with the sam_istinguishing earnestness, on the same errand, that it seemed as if half th_ompany might soon be collected together for the purpose of preparator_nspection.
  • Emma perceived that her taste was not the only taste on which Mr. Westo_epended, and felt, that to be the favourite and intimate of a man who had s_any intimates and confidantes, was not the very first distinction in th_cale of vanity. She liked his open manners, but a little less of open- heartedness would have made him a higher character.—General benevolence, bu_ot general friendship, made a man what he ought to be.— She could fancy suc_ man. The whole party walked about, and looked, and praised again; and then, having nothing else to do, formed a sort of half-circle round the fire, t_bserve in their various modes, till other subjects were started, that, thoug_ay, a fire in the evening was still very pleasant.
  • Emma found that it was not Mr. Weston's fault that the number of priv_ouncillors was not yet larger. They had stopped at Mrs. Bates's door to offe_he use of their carriage, but the aunt and niece were to be brought by th_ltons.
  • Frank was standing by her, but not steadily; there was a restlessness, whic_hewed a mind not at ease. He was looking about, he was going to the door, h_as watching for the sound of other carriages,— impatient to begin, or afrai_f being always near her.
  • Mrs. Elton was spoken of. "I think she must be here soon," said he. "I have _reat curiosity to see Mrs. Elton, I have heard so much of her. It cannot b_ong, I think, before she comes."
  • A carriage was heard. He was on the move immediately; but coming back, said,
  • "I am forgetting that I am not acquainted with her. I have never seen eithe_r. or Mrs. Elton. I have no business to put myself forward."
  • Mr. and Mrs. Elton appeared; and all the smiles and the proprieties passed.
  • "But Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax!" said Mr. Weston, looking about. "We though_ou were to bring them."
  • The mistake had been slight. The carriage was sent for them now. Emma longe_o know what Frank's first opinion of Mrs. Elton might be; how he was affecte_y the studied elegance of her dress, and her smiles of graciousness. He wa_mmediately qualifying himself to form an opinion, by giving her very prope_ttention, after the introduction had passed.
  • In a few minutes the carriage returned.—Somebody talked of rain.— "I will se_hat there are umbrellas, sir," said Frank to his father: "Miss Bates must no_e forgotten:" and away he went. Mr. Weston was following; but Mrs. Elto_etained him, to gratify him by her opinion of his son; and so briskly did sh_egin, that the young man himself, though by no means moving slowly, coul_ardly be out of hearing.
  • "A very fine young man indeed, Mr. Weston. You know I candidly told you _hould form my own opinion; and I am happy to say that I am extremely please_ith him.—You may believe me. I never compliment. I think him a very handsom_oung man, and his manners are precisely what I like and approve—so truly th_entleman, without the least conceit or puppyism. You must know I have a vas_islike to puppies— quite a horror of them. They were never tolerated at Mapl_rove. Neither Mr. Suckling nor me had ever any patience with them; and w_sed sometimes to say very cutting things! Selina, who is mild almost to _ault, bore with them much better."
  • While she talked of his son, Mr. Weston's attention was chained; but when sh_ot to Maple Grove, he could recollect that there were ladies just arriving t_e attended to, and with happy smiles must hurry away.
  • Mrs. Elton turned to Mrs. Weston. "I have no doubt of its being our carriag_ith Miss Bates and Jane. Our coachman and horses are so extremel_xpeditious!—I believe we drive faster than any body.— What a pleasure it i_o send one's carriage for a friend!— I understand you were so kind as t_ffer, but another time it will be quite unnecessary. You may be very sure _hall always take care of them."
  • Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax, escorted by the two gentlemen, walked into th_oom; and Mrs. Elton seemed to think it as much her duty as Mrs. Weston's t_eceive them. Her gestures and movements might be understood by any one wh_ooked on like Emma; but her words, every body's words, were soon lost unde_he incessant flow of Miss Bates, who came in talking, and had not finishe_er speech under many minutes after her being admitted into the circle at th_ire. As the door opened she was heard,
  • "So very obliging of you!—No rain at all. Nothing to signify. I do not car_or myself. Quite thick shoes. And Jane declares— Well!—(as soon as she wa_ithin the door) Well! This is brilliant indeed!—This i_dmirable!—Excellently contrived, upon my word. Nothing wanting. Could no_ave imagined it.—So well lighted up!— Jane, Jane, look!—did you ever see an_hing? Oh! Mr. Weston, you must really have had Aladdin's lamp. Good Mrs.
  • Stokes would not know her own room again. I saw her as I came in; she wa_tanding in the entrance. `Oh! Mrs. Stokes,' said I— but I had not time fo_ore." She was now met by Mrs. Weston.— "Very well, I thank you, ma'am. I hop_ou are quite well. Very happy to hear it. So afraid you might have _eadache!— seeing you pass by so often, and knowing how much trouble you mus_ave. Delighted to hear it indeed. Ah! dear Mrs. Elton, so obliged to you fo_he carriage!—excellent time. Jane and I quite ready. Did not keep the horse_ moment. Most comfortable carriage.— Oh! and I am sure our thanks are due t_ou, Mrs. Weston, on that score. Mrs. Elton had most kindly sent Jane a note, or we should have been.— But two such offers in one day!—Never were suc_eighbours. I said to my mother, `Upon my word, ma'am—.' Thank you, my mothe_s remarkably well. Gone to Mr. Woodhouse's. I made her take her shawl—for th_venings are not warm—her large new shawl— Mrs. Dixon's wedding-present.—S_ind of her to think of my mother! Bought at Weymouth, you know—Mr. Dixon'_hoice. There were three others, Jane says, which they hesitated about som_ime. Colonel Campbell rather preferred an olive. My dear Jane, are you sur_ou did not wet your feet?—It was but a drop or two, but I am so afraid:—bu_r. Frank Churchill was so extremely— and there was a mat to step upon—I shal_ever forget his extreme politeness.—Oh! Mr. Frank Churchill, I must tell yo_y mother's spectacles have never been in fault since; the rivet never cam_ut again. My mother often talks of your good-nature. Does not she, Jane?—D_ot we often talk of Mr. Frank Churchill?— Ah! here's Miss Woodhouse.—Dea_iss Woodhouse, how do you do?— Very well I thank you, quite well. This i_eeting quite in fairy-land!— Such a transformation!—Must not compliment, _now (eyeing Emma most complacently)—that would be rude—but upon my word, Mis_oodhouse, you do look—how do you like Jane's hair?—You are a judge.— She di_t all herself. Quite wonderful how she does her hair!— No hairdresser fro_ondon I think could.—Ah! Dr. Hughes I declare— and Mrs. Hughes. Must go an_peak to Dr. and Mrs. Hughes for a moment.—How do you do? How do you do?—Ver_ell, I thank you. This is delightful, is not it?—Where's dear Mr. Richard?— Oh! there he is. Don't disturb him. Much better employed talking to the youn_adies. How do you do, Mr. Richard?—I saw you the other day as you rod_hrough the town—Mrs. Otway, I protest!— and good Mr. Otway, and Miss Otwa_nd Miss Caroline.—Such a host of friends!—and Mr. George and Mr. Arthur!—Ho_o you do? How do you all do?—Quite well, I am much obliged to you. Neve_etter.— Don't I hear another carriage?—Who can this be?—very likely th_orthy Coles.—Upon my word, this is charming to be standing about among suc_riends! And such a noble fire!—I am quite roasted. No coffee, I thank you, for me—never take coffee.—A little tea if you please, sir, by and bye,—n_urry—Oh! here it comes. Every thing so good!"
  • Frank Churchill returned to his station by Emma; and as soon as Miss Bates wa_uiet, she found herself necessarily overhearing the discourse of Mrs. Elto_nd Miss Fairfax, who were standing a little way behind her.—He wa_houghtful. Whether he were overhearing too, she could not determine. After _ood many compliments to Jane on her dress and look, compliments very quietl_nd properly taken, Mrs. Elton was evidently wanting to be complimente_erself— and it was, "How do you like my gown?—How do you like my trimming?— How has Wright done my hair?"—with many other relative questions, all answere_ith patient politeness. Mrs. Elton then said, "Nobody can think less of dres_n general than I do—but upon such an occasion as this, when every body's eye_re so much upon me, and in compliment to the Westons—who I have no doubt ar_iving this ball chiefly to do me honour—I would not wish to be inferior t_thers. And I see very few pearls in the room except mine.— So Frank Churchil_s a capital dancer, I understand.—We shall see if our styles suit.—A fin_oung man certainly is Frank Churchill. I like him very well."
  • At this moment Frank began talking so vigorously, that Emma could not bu_magine he had overheard his own praises, and did not want to hear more;—an_he voices of the ladies were drowned for a while, till another suspensio_rought Mrs. Elton's tones again distinctly forward.—Mr. Elton had just joine_hem, and his wife was exclaiming,
  • "Oh! you have found us out at last, have you, in our seclusion?— I was thi_oment telling Jane, I thought you would begin to be impatient for tidings o_s."
  • "Jane!"—repeated Frank Churchill, with a look of surprize and displeasure.—
  • "That is easy—but Miss Fairfax does not disapprove it, I suppose."
  • "How do you like Mrs. Elton?" said Emma in a whisper.
  • "Not at all."
  • "You are ungrateful."
  • "Ungrateful!—What do you mean?" Then changing from a frown to a smile—"No, d_ot tell me—I do not want to know what you mean.— Where is my father?—When ar_e to begin dancing?"
  • Emma could hardly understand him; he seemed in an odd humour. He walked off t_ind his father, but was quickly back again with both Mr. and Mrs. Weston. H_ad met with them in a little perplexity, which must be laid before Emma. I_ad just occurred to Mrs. Weston that Mrs. Elton must be asked to begin th_all; that she would expect it; which interfered with all their wishes o_iving Emma that distinction.—Emma heard the sad truth with fortitude.
  • "And what are we to do for a proper partner for her?" said Mr. Weston. "Sh_ill think Frank ought to ask her."
  • Frank turned instantly to Emma, to claim her former promise; and boaste_imself an engaged man, which his father looked his most perfect approbatio_f—and it then appeared that Mrs. Weston was wanting him to dance with Mrs.
  • Elton himself, and that their business was to help to persuade him into it, which was done pretty soon.— Mr. Weston and Mrs. Elton led the way, Mr. Fran_hurchill and Miss Woodhouse followed. Emma must submit to stand second t_rs. Elton, though she had always considered the ball as peculiarly for her.
  • It was almost enough to make her think of marrying. Mrs. Elton had undoubtedl_he advantage, at this time, in vanity completely gratified; for though sh_ad intended to begin with Frank Churchill, she could not lose by the change.
  • Mr. Weston might be his son's superior.— In spite of this little rub, however, Emma was smiling with enjoyment, delighted to see the respectable length o_he set as it was forming, and to feel that she had so many hours of unusua_estivity before her.— She was more disturbed by Mr. Knightley's not dancin_han by any thing else.—There he was, among the standers-by, where he ough_ot to be; he ought to be dancing,—not classing himself with the husbands, an_athers, and whist-players, who were pretending to feel an interest in th_ance till their rubbers were made up,—so young as he looked!— He could no_ave appeared to greater advantage perhaps anywhere, than where he had place_imself. His tall, firm, upright figure, among the bulky forms and stoopin_houlders of the elderly men, was such as Emma felt must draw every body'_yes; and, excepting her own partner, there was not one among the whole row o_oung men who could be compared with him.—He moved a few steps nearer, an_hose few steps were enough to prove in how gentlemanlike a manner, with wha_atural grace, he must have danced, would he but take the trouble.—Wheneve_he caught his eye, she forced him to smile; but in general he was lookin_rave. She wished he could love a ballroom better, and could like Fran_hurchill better.— He seemed often observing her. She must not flatter hersel_hat he thought of her dancing, but if he were criticising her behaviour, sh_id not feel afraid. There was nothing like flirtation between her and he_artner. They seemed more like cheerful, easy friends, than lovers. That Fran_hurchill thought less of her than he had done, was indubitable.
  • The ball proceeded pleasantly. The anxious cares, the incessant attentions o_rs. Weston, were not thrown away. Every body seemed happy; and the praise o_eing a delightful ball, which is seldom bestowed till after a ball has cease_o be, was repeatedly given in the very beginning of the existence of this. O_ery important, very recordable events, it was not more productive than suc_eetings usually are. There was one, however, which Emma thought somethin_f.—The two last dances before supper were begun, and Harriet had n_artner;—the only young lady sitting down;— and so equal had been hitherto th_umber of dancers, that how there could be any one disengaged was th_onder!—But Emma's wonder lessened soon afterwards, on seeing Mr. Elto_auntering about. He would not ask Harriet to dance if it were possible to b_voided: she was sure he would not—and she was expecting him every moment t_scape into the card-room.
  • Escape, however, was not his plan. He came to the part of the room where th_itters-by were collected, spoke to some, and walked about in front of them, as if to shew his liberty, and his resolution of maintaining it. He did no_mit being sometimes directly before Miss Smith, or speaking to those who wer_lose to her.— Emma saw it. She was not yet dancing; she was working her wa_p from the bottom, and had therefore leisure to look around, and by onl_urning her head a little she saw it all. When she was half-way up the set, the whole group were exactly behind her, and she would no longer allow he_yes to watch; but Mr. Elton was so near, that she heard every syllable of _ialogue which just then took place between him and Mrs. Weston; and sh_erceived that his wife, who was standing immediately above her, was not onl_istening also, but even encouraging him by significant glances.—The kind- hearted, gentle Mrs. Weston had left her seat to join him and say, "Do not yo_ance, Mr. Elton?" to which his prompt reply was, "Most readily, Mrs. Weston, if you will dance with me."
  • "Me!—oh! no—I would get you a better partner than myself. I am no dancer."
  • "If Mrs. Gilbert wishes to dance," said he, "I shall have great pleasure, I a_ure—for, though beginning to feel myself rather an old married man, and tha_y dancing days are over, it would give me very great pleasure at any time t_tand up with an old friend like Mrs. Gilbert."
  • "Mrs. Gilbert does not mean to dance, but there is a young lady disengage_hom I should be very glad to see dancing—Miss Smith." "Miss Smith!—oh!—I ha_ot observed.—You are extremely obliging— and if I were not an old marrie_an.—But my dancing days are over, Mrs. Weston. You will excuse me. Any thin_lse I should be most happy to do, at your command—but my dancing days ar_ver."
  • Mrs. Weston said no more; and Emma could imagine with what surprize an_ortification she must be returning to her seat. This was Mr. Elton! th_miable, obliging, gentle Mr. Elton.— She looked round for a moment; he ha_oined Mr. Knightley at a little distance, and was arranging himself fo_ettled conversation, while smiles of high glee passed between him and hi_ife.
  • She would not look again. Her heart was in a glow, and she feared her fac_ight be as hot.
  • In another moment a happier sight caught her;—Mr. Knightley leading Harriet t_he set!—Never had she been more surprized, seldom more delighted, than a_hat instant. She was all pleasure and gratitude, both for Harriet an_erself, and longed to be thanking him; and though too distant for speech, he_ountenance said much, as soon as she could catch his eye again.
  • His dancing proved to be just what she had believed it, extremely good; an_arriet would have seemed almost too lucky, if it had not been for the crue_tate of things before, and for the very complete enjoyment and very hig_ense of the distinction which her happy features announced. It was not throw_way on her, she bounded higher than ever, flew farther down the middle, an_as in a continual course of smiles.
  • Mr. Elton had retreated into the card-room, looking (Emma trusted) ver_oolish. She did not think he was quite so hardened as his wife, thoug_rowing very like her;—she spoke some of her feelings, by observing audibly t_er partner,
  • "Knightley has taken pity on poor little Miss Smith!—Very goodnatured, _eclare."
  • Supper was announced. The move began; and Miss Bates might be heard from tha_oment, without interruption, till her being seated at table and taking up he_poon.
  • "Jane, Jane, my dear Jane, where are you?—Here is your tippet. Mrs. Westo_egs you to put on your tippet. She says she is afraid there will be draught_n the passage, though every thing has been done—One door nailed up—Quantitie_f matting—My dear Jane, indeed you must. Mr. Churchill, oh! you are to_bliging! How well you put it on!—so gratified! Excellent dancing indeed!— Yes, my dear, I ran home, as I said I should, to help grandmama to bed, an_ot back again, and nobody missed me.—I set off without saying a word, just a_ told you. Grandmama was quite well, had a charming evening with Mr.
  • Woodhouse, a vast deal of chat, and backgammon.—Tea was made downstairs, biscuits and baked apples and wine before she came away: amazing luck in som_f her throws: and she inquired a great deal about you, how you were amused, and who were your partners. `Oh!' said I, `I shall not forestall Jane; I lef_er dancing with Mr. George Otway; she will love to tell you all about i_erself to-morrow: her first partner was Mr. Elton, I do not know who will as_er next, perhaps Mr. William Cox.' My dear sir, you are too obliging.—I_here nobody you would not rather?—I am not helpless. Sir, you are most kind.
  • Upon my word, Jane on one arm, and me on the other!—Stop, stop, let us stand _ittle back, Mrs. Elton is going; dear Mrs. Elton, how elegant sh_ooks!—Beautiful lace!—Now we all follow in her train. Quite the queen of th_vening!—Well, here we are at the passage. Two steps, Jane, take care of th_wo steps. Oh! no, there is but one. Well, I was persuaded there were two. Ho_ery odd! I was convinced there were two, and there is but one. I never sa_ny thing equal to the comfort and style—Candles everywhere.—I was telling yo_f your grandmama, Jane,—There was a little disappointment.— The baked apple_nd biscuits, excellent in their way, you know; but there was a delicat_ricassee of sweetbread and some asparagus brought in at first, and good Mr.
  • Woodhouse, not thinking the asparagus quite boiled enough, sent it all ou_gain. Now there is nothing grandmama loves better than sweetbread an_sparagus— so she was rather disappointed, but we agreed we would not speak o_t to any body, for fear of its getting round to dear Miss Woodhouse, wh_ould be so very much concerned!—Well, this is brilliant! I am all amazement!
  • could not have supposed any thing!—Such elegance and profusion!—I have see_othing like it since— Well, where shall we sit? where shall we sit? Anywhere, so that Jane is not in a draught. Where I sit is of no consequence. Oh! do yo_ecommend this side?—Well, I am sure, Mr. Churchill— only it seems to_ood—but just as you please. What you direct in this house cannot be wrong.
  • Dear Jane, how shall we ever recollect half the dishes for grandmama? Sou_oo! Bless me! I should not be helped so soon, but it smells most excellent, and I cannot help beginning."
  • Emma had no opportunity of speaking to Mr. Knightley till after supper; but, when they were all in the ballroom again, her eyes invited him irresistibly t_ome to her and be thanked. He was warm in his reprobation of Mr. Elton'_onduct; it had been unpardonable rudeness; and Mrs. Elton's looks als_eceived the due share of censure.
  • "They aimed at wounding more than Harriet," said he. "Emma, why is it tha_hey are your enemies?"
  • He looked with smiling penetration; and, on receiving no answer, added, "Sh_ught not to be angry with you, I suspect, whatever he may be.—To tha_urmise, you say nothing, of course; but confess, Emma, that you did want hi_o marry Harriet."
  • "I did," replied Emma, "and they cannot forgive me."
  • He shook his head; but there was a smile of indulgence with it, and he onl_aid,
  • "I shall not scold you. I leave you to your own reflections."
  • "Can you trust me with such flatterers?—Does my vain spirit ever tell me I a_rong?"
  • "Not your vain spirit, but your serious spirit.—If one leads you wrong, I a_ure the other tells you of it."
  • "I do own myself to have been completely mistaken in Mr. Elton. There is _ittleness about him which you discovered, and which I did not: and I wa_ully convinced of his being in love with Harriet. It was through a series o_trange blunders!"
  • "And, in return for your acknowledging so much, I will do you the justice t_ay, that you would have chosen for him better than he has chosen fo_imself.—Harriet Smith has some first-rate qualities, which Mrs. Elton i_otally without. An unpretending, single-minded, artless girl— infinitely t_e preferred by any man of sense and taste to such a woman as Mrs. Elton. _ound Harriet more conversable than I expected."
  • Emma was extremely gratified.—They were interrupted by the bustle of Mr.
  • Weston calling on every body to begin dancing again.
  • "Come Miss Woodhouse, Miss Otway, Miss Fairfax, what are you all doing?— Com_mma, set your companions the example. Every body is lazy! Every body i_sleep!"
  • "I am ready," said Emma, "whenever I am wanted."
  • "Whom are you going to dance with?" asked Mr. Knightley.
  • She hesitated a moment, and then replied, "With you, if you will ask me."
  • "Will you?" said he, offering his hand.
  • "Indeed I will. You have shewn that you can dance, and you know we are no_eally so much brother and sister as to make it at all improper."
  • "Brother and sister! no, indeed."