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Chapter 7

  • Emma's very good opinion of Frank Churchill was a little shaken the followin_ay, by hearing that he was gone off to London, merely to have his hair cut. _udden freak seemed to have seized him at breakfast, and he had sent for _haise and set off, intending to return to dinner, but with no more importan_iew that appeared than having his hair cut. There was certainly no harm i_is travelling sixteen miles twice over on such an errand; but there was a_ir of foppery and nonsense in it which she could not approve. It did no_ccord with the rationality of plan, the moderation in expense, or even th_nselfish warmth of heart, which she had believed herself to discern in hi_esterday. Vanity, extravagance, love of change, restlessness of temper, whic_ust be doing something, good or bad; heedlessness as to the pleasure of hi_ather and Mrs. Weston, indifferent as to how his conduct might appear i_eneral; he became liable to all these charges. His father only called him _oxcomb, and thought it a very good story; but that Mrs. Weston did not lik_t, was clear enough, by her passing it over as quickly as possible, an_aking no other comment than that "all young people would have their littl_hims."
  • With the exception of this little blot, Emma found that his visit hitherto ha_iven her friend only good ideas of him. Mrs. Weston was very ready to say ho_ttentive and pleasant a companion he made himself—how much she saw to like i_is disposition altogether. He appeared to have a very open temper—certainly _ery cheerful and lively one; she could observe nothing wrong in his notions,
  • a great deal decidedly right; he spoke of his uncle with warm regard, was fon_f talking of him—said he would be the best man in the world if he were lef_o himself; and though there was no being attached to the aunt, h_cknowledged her kindness with gratitude, and seemed to mean always to spea_f her with respect. This was all very promising; and, but for such a_nfortunate fancy for having his hair cut, there was nothing to denote hi_nworthy of the distinguished honour which her imagination had given him; th_onour, if not of being really in love with her, of being at least very nea_t, and saved only by her own indifference— (for still her resolution held o_ever marrying)—the honour, in short, of being marked out for her by all thei_oint acquaintance.
  • Mr. Weston, on his side, added a virtue to the account which must have som_eight. He gave her to understand that Frank admired her extremely—thought he_ery beautiful and very charming; and with so much to be said for hi_ltogether, she found she must not judge him harshly. As Mrs. Weston observed,
  • "all young people would have their little whims."
  • There was one person among his new acquaintance in Surry, not so lenientl_isposed. In general he was judged, throughout the parishes of Donwell an_ighbury, with great candour; liberal allowances were made for the littl_xcesses of such a handsome young man— one who smiled so often and bowed s_ell; but there was one spirit among them not to be softened, from its powe_f censure, by bows or smiles—Mr. Knightley. The circumstance was told him a_artfield; for the moment, he was silent; but Emma heard him almos_mmediately afterwards say to himself, over a newspaper he held in his hand,
  • "Hum! just the trifling, silly fellow I took him for." She had half a mind t_esent; but an instant's observation convinced her that it was really sai_nly to relieve his own feelings, and not meant to provoke; and therefore sh_et it pass.
  • Although in one instance the bearers of not good tidings, Mr. and Mrs.
  • Weston's visit this morning was in another respect particularly opportune.
  • Something occurred while they were at Hartfield, to make Emma want thei_dvice; and, which was still more lucky, she wanted exactly the advice the_ave.
  • This was the occurrence:—The Coles had been settled some years in Highbury,
  • and were very good sort of people—friendly, liberal, and unpretending; but, o_he other hand, they were of low origin, in trade, and only moderatel_enteel. On their first coming into the country, they had lived in proportio_o their income, quietly, keeping little company, and that littl_nexpensively; but the last year or two had brought them a considerabl_ncrease of means— the house in town had yielded greater profits, and fortun_n general had smiled on them. With their wealth, their views increased; thei_ant of a larger house, their inclination for more company. They added t_heir house, to their number of servants, to their expenses of every sort; an_y this time were, in fortune and style of living, second only to the famil_t Hartfield. Their love of society, and their new dining-room, prepared ever_ody for their keeping dinner-company; and a few parties, chiefly among th_ingle men, had already taken place. The regular and best families Emma coul_ardly suppose they would presume to invite— neither Donwell, nor Hartfield,
  • nor Randalls. Nothing should tempt her to go, if they did; and she regrette_hat her father's known habits would be giving her refusal less meaning tha_he could wish. The Coles were very respectable in their way, but they ough_o be taught that it was not for them to arrange the terms on which th_uperior families would visit them. This lesson, she very much feared, the_ould receive only from herself; she had little hope of Mr. Knightley, none o_r. Weston.
  • But she had made up her mind how to meet this presumption so many weeks befor_t appeared, that when the insult came at last, it found her very differentl_ffected. Donwell and Randalls had received their invitation, and none ha_ome for her father and herself; and Mrs. Weston's accounting for it with "_uppose they will not take the liberty with you; they know you do not din_ut," was not quite sufficient. She felt that she should like to have had th_ower of refusal; and afterwards, as the idea of the party to be assemble_here, consisting precisely of those whose society was dearest to her,
  • occurred again and again, she did not know that she might not have bee_empted to accept. Harriet was to be there in the evening, and the Bateses.
  • They had been speaking of it as they walked about Highbury the day before, an_rank Churchill had most earnestly lamented her absence. Might not the evenin_nd in a dance? had been a question of his. The bare possibility of it acte_s a farther irritation on her spirits; and her being left in solitar_randeur, even supposing the omission to be intended as a compliment, was bu_oor comfort.
  • It was the arrival of this very invitation while the Westons were a_artfield, which made their presence so acceptable; for though her firs_emark, on reading it, was that "of course it must be declined," she so ver_oon proceeded to ask them what they advised her to do, that their advice fo_er going was most prompt and successful.
  • She owned that, considering every thing, she was not absolutely withou_nclination for the party. The Coles expressed themselves so properly—ther_as so much real attention in the manner of it— so much consideration for he_ather. "They would have solicited the honour earlier, but had been waitin_he arrival of a folding-screen from London, which they hoped might keep Mr.
  • Woodhouse from any draught of air, and therefore induce him the more readil_o give them the honour of his company." Upon the whole, she was ver_ersuadable; and it being briefly settled among themselves how it might b_one without neglecting his comfort—how certainly Mrs. Goddard, if not Mrs.
  • Bates, might be depended on for bearing him company— Mr. Woodhouse was to b_alked into an acquiescence of his daughter's going out to dinner on a day no_ear at hand, and spending the whole evening away from him. As for his going,
  • Emma did not wish him to think it possible, the hours would be too late, an_he party too numerous. He was soon pretty well resigned.
  • "I am not fond of dinner-visiting," said he—"I never was. No more is Emma.
  • Late hours do not agree with us. I am sorry Mr. and Mrs. Cole should have don_t. I think it would be much better if they would come in one afternoon nex_ummer, and take their tea with us—take us in their afternoon walk; which the_ight do, as our hours are so reasonable, and yet get home without being ou_n the damp of the evening. The dews of a summer evening are what I would no_xpose any body to. However, as they are so very desirous to have dear Emm_ine with them, and as you will both be there, and Mr. Knightley too, to tak_are of her, I cannot wish to prevent it, provided the weather be what i_ught, neither damp, nor cold, nor windy." Then turning to Mrs. Weston, with _ook of gentle reproach—"Ah! Miss Taylor, if you had not married, you woul_ave staid at home with me."
  • "Well, sir," cried Mr. Weston, "as I took Miss Taylor away, it is incumbent o_e to supply her place, if I can; and I will step to Mrs. Goddard in a moment,
  • if you wish it."
  • But the idea of any thing to be done in a moment, was increasing, no_essening, Mr. Woodhouse's agitation. The ladies knew better how to allay it.
  • Mr. Weston must be quiet, and every thing deliberately arranged.
  • With this treatment, Mr. Woodhouse was soon composed enough for talking a_sual. "He should be happy to see Mrs. Goddard. He had a great regard for Mrs.
  • Goddard; and Emma should write a line, and invite her. James could take th_ote. But first of all, there must be an answer written to Mrs. Cole."
  • "You will make my excuses, my dear, as civilly as possible. You will say tha_ am quite an invalid, and go no where, and therefore must decline thei_bliging invitation; beginning with my compliments, of course. But you will d_very thing right. I need not tell you what is to be done. We must remember t_et James know that the carriage will be wanted on Tuesday. I shall have n_ears for you with him. We have never been there above once since the ne_pproach was made; but still I have no doubt that James will take you ver_afely. And when you get there, you must tell him at what time you would hav_im come for you again; and you had better name an early hour. You will no_ike staying late. You will get very tired when tea is over."
  • "But you would not wish me to come away before I am tired, papa?"
  • "Oh! no, my love; but you will soon be tired. There will be a great man_eople talking at once. You will not like the noise."
  • "But, my dear sir," cried Mr. Weston, "if Emma comes away early, it will b_reaking up the party."
  • "And no great harm if it does," said Mr. Woodhouse. "The sooner every part_reaks up, the better."
  • "But you do not consider how it may appear to the Coles. Emma's going awa_irectly after tea might be giving offence. They are good-natured people, an_hink little of their own claims; but still they must feel that any body'_urrying away is no great compliment; and Miss Woodhouse's doing it would b_ore thought of than any other person's in the room. You would not wish t_isappoint and mortify the Coles, I am sure, sir; friendly, good sort o_eople as ever lived, and who have been your neighbours these ten years."
  • "No, upon no account in the world, Mr. Weston; I am much obliged to you fo_eminding me. I should be extremely sorry to be giving them any pain. I kno_hat worthy people they are. Perry tells me that Mr. Cole never touches mal_iquor. You would not think it to look at him, but he is bilious—Mr. Cole i_ery bilious. No, I would not be the means of giving them any pain. My dea_mma, we must consider this. I am sure, rather than run the risk of hurtin_r. and Mrs. Cole, you would stay a little longer than you might wish. Yo_ill not regard being tired. You will be perfectly safe, you know, among you_riends."
  • "Oh yes, papa. I have no fears at all for myself; and I should have n_cruples of staying as late as Mrs. Weston, but on your account. I am onl_fraid of your sitting up for me. I am not afraid of your not bein_xceedingly comfortable with Mrs. Goddard. She loves piquet, you know; bu_hen she is gone home, I am afraid you will be sitting up by yourself, instea_f going to bed at your usual time—and the idea of that would entirely destro_y comfort. You must promise me not to sit up."
  • He did, on the condition of some promises on her side: such as that, if sh_ame home cold, she would be sure to warm herself thoroughly; if hungry, tha_he would take something to eat; that her own maid should sit up for her; an_hat Serle and the butler should see that every thing were safe in the house,
  • as usual.