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Chapter 8

  • The wretchedness of a scheme to Box Hill was in Emma's thoughts all th_vening. How it might be considered by the rest of the party, she could no_ell. They, in their different homes, and their different ways, might b_ooking back on it with pleasure; but in her view it was a morning mor_ompletely misspent, more totally bare of rational satisfaction at the time,
  • and more to be abhorred in recollection, than any she had ever passed. A whol_vening of back-gammon with her father, was felicity to it. There, indeed, la_eal pleasure, for there she was giving up the sweetest hours of the twenty-
  • four to his comfort; and feeling that, unmerited as might be the degree of hi_ond affection and confiding esteem, she could not, in her general conduct, b_pen to any severe reproach. As a daughter, she hoped she was not without _eart. She hoped no one could have said to her, "How could you be so unfeelin_o your father?— I must, I will tell you truths while I can." Miss Bate_hould never again—no, never! If attention, in future, could do away the past,
  • she might hope to be forgiven. She had been often remiss, her conscience tol_er so; remiss, perhaps, more in thought than fact; scornful, ungracious. Bu_t should be so no more. In the warmth of true contrition, she would call upo_er the very next morning, and it should be the beginning, on her side, of _egular, equal, kindly intercourse.
  • She was just as determined when the morrow came, and went early, that nothin_ight prevent her. It was not unlikely, she thought, that she might see Mr.
  • Knightley in her way; or, perhaps, he might come in while she were paying he_isit. She had no objection. She would not be ashamed of the appearance of th_enitence, so justly and truly hers. Her eyes were towards Donwell as sh_alked, but she saw him not.
  • "The ladies were all at home." She had never rejoiced at the sound before, no_ver before entered the passage, nor walked up the stairs, with any wish o_iving pleasure, but in conferring obligation, or of deriving it, except i_ubsequent ridicule.
  • There was a bustle on her approach; a good deal of moving and talking. Sh_eard Miss Bates's voice, something was to be done in a hurry; the maid looke_rightened and awkward; hoped she would be pleased to wait a moment, and the_shered her in too soon. The aunt and niece seemed both escaping into th_djoining room. Jane she had a distinct glimpse of, looking extremely ill;
  • and, before the door had shut them out, she heard Miss Bates saying, "Well, m_ear, I shall say you are laid down upon the bed, and I am sure you are il_nough."
  • Poor old Mrs. Bates, civil and humble as usual, looked as if she did not quit_nderstand what was going on.
  • "I am afraid Jane is not very well," said she, "but I do not know; they tel_e she is well. I dare say my daughter will be here presently, Miss Woodhouse.
  • I hope you find a chair. I wish Hetty had not gone. I am very little able—Hav_ou a chair, ma'am? Do you sit where you like? I am sure she will be her_resently."
  • Emma seriously hoped she would. She had a moment's fear of Miss Bates keepin_way from her. But Miss Bates soon came—"Very happy and obliged"—but Emma'_onscience told her that there was not the same cheerful volubility a_efore—less ease of look and manner. A very friendly inquiry after Mis_airfax, she hoped, might lead the way to a return of old feelings. The touc_eemed immediate.
  • "Ah! Miss Woodhouse, how kind you are!—I suppose you have heard— and are com_o give us joy. This does not seem much like joy, indeed, in me—(twinklin_way a tear or two)—but it will be very trying for us to part with her, afte_aving had her so long, and she has a dreadful headache just now, writing al_he morning:— such long letters, you know, to be written to Colonel Campbell,
  • and Mrs. Dixon. `My dear,' said I, `you will blind yourself'— for tears wer_n her eyes perpetually. One cannot wonder, one cannot wonder. It is a grea_hange; and though she is amazingly fortunate—such a situation, I suppose, a_o young woman before ever met with on first going out—do not think u_ngrateful, Miss Woodhouse, for such surprising good fortune—(again dispersin_er tears)—but, poor dear soul! if you were to see what a headache she has.
  • When one is in great pain, you know one cannot feel any blessing quite as i_ay deserve. She is as low as possible. To look at her, nobody would think ho_elighted and happy she is to have secured such a situation. You will excus_er not coming to you—she is not able—she is gone into her own room— I wan_er to lie down upon the bed. `My dear,' said I, `I shall say you are lai_own upon the bed:' but, however, she is not; she is walking about the room.
  • But, now that she has written her letters, she says she shall soon be well.
  • She will be extremely sorry to miss seeing you, Miss Woodhouse, but you_indness will excuse her. You were kept waiting at the door—I was quit_shamed— but somehow there was a little bustle—for it so happened that we ha_ot heard the knock, and till you were on the stairs, we did not know any bod_as coming. `It is only Mrs. Cole,' said I, `depend upon it. Nobody else woul_ome so early.' `Well,' said she, `it must be borne some time or other, and i_ay as well be now.' But then Patty came in, and said it was you. `Oh!' sai_, `it is Miss Woodhouse: I am sure you will like to see her.'— `I can se_obody,' said she; and up she got, and would go away; and that was what mad_s keep you waiting—and extremely sorry and ashamed we were. `If you must go,
  • my dear,' said I, `you must, and I will say you are laid down upon the bed.'"
  • Emma was most sincerely interested. Her heart had been long growing kinde_owards Jane; and this picture of her present sufferings acted as a cure o_very former ungenerous suspicion, and left her nothing but pity; and th_emembrance of the less just and less gentle sensations of the past, oblige_er to admit that Jane might very naturally resolve on seeing Mrs. Cole or an_ther steady friend, when she might not bear to see herself. She spoke as sh_elt, with earnest regret and solicitude—sincerely wishing that th_ircumstances which she collected from Miss Bates to be now actuall_etermined on, might be as much for Miss Fairfax's advantage and comfort a_ossible. "It must be a severe trial to them all. She had understood it was t_e delayed till Colonel Campbell's return."
  • "So very kind!" replied Miss Bates. "But you are always kind."
  • There was no bearing such an "always;" and to break through her dreadfu_ratitude, Emma made the direct inquiry of—
  • "Where—may I ask?—is Miss Fairfax going?"
  • "To a Mrs. Smallridge—charming woman—most superior—to have the charge of he_hree little girls—delightful children. Impossible that any situation could b_ore replete with comfort; if we except, perhaps, Mrs. Suckling's own family,
  • and Mrs. Bragge's; but Mrs. Smallridge is intimate with both, and in the ver_ame neighbourhood:—lives only four miles from Maple Grove. Jane will be onl_our miles from Maple Grove."
  • "Mrs. Elton, I suppose, has been the person to whom Miss Fairfax owes—"
  • "Yes, our good Mrs. Elton. The most indefatigable, true friend. She would no_ake a denial. She would not let Jane say, `No;' for when Jane first heard o_t, (it was the day before yesterday, the very morning we were at Donwell,)
  • when Jane first heard of it, she was quite decided against accepting th_ffer, and for the reasons you mention; exactly as you say, she had made u_er mind to close with nothing till Colonel Campbell's return, and nothin_hould induce her to enter into any engagement at present—and so she told Mrs.
  • Elton over and over again—and I am sure I had no more idea that she woul_hange her mind!—but that good Mrs. Elton, whose judgment never fails her, sa_arther than I did. It is not every body that would have stood out in such _ind way as she did, and refuse to take Jane's answer; but she positivel_eclared she would not write any such denial yesterday, as Jane wished her;
  • she would wait—and, sure enough, yesterday evening it was all settled tha_ane should go. Quite a surprize to me! I had not the least idea!—Jane too_rs. Elton aside, and told her at once, that upon thinking over the advantage_f Mrs. Smallridge's situation, she had come to the resolution of acceptin_t.—I did not know a word of it till it was all settled."
  • "You spent the evening with Mrs. Elton?"
  • "Yes, all of us; Mrs. Elton would have us come. It was settled so, upon th_ill, while we were walking about with Mr. Knightley. `You must all spend you_vening with us,' said she—`I positively must have you all come.'"
  • "Mr. Knightley was there too, was he?"
  • "No, not Mr. Knightley; he declined it from the first; and though I thought h_ould come, because Mrs. Elton declared she would not let him off, he di_ot;—but my mother, and Jane, and I, were all there, and a very agreeabl_vening we had. Such kind friends, you know, Miss Woodhouse, one must alway_ind agreeable, though every body seemed rather fagged after the morning'_arty. Even pleasure, you know, is fatiguing—and I cannot say that any of the_eemed very much to have enjoyed it. However, I shall always think it a ver_leasant party, and feel extremely obliged to the kind friends who included m_n it."
  • "Miss Fairfax, I suppose, though you were not aware of it, had been making u_er mind the whole day?"
  • "I dare say she had."
  • "Whenever the time may come, it must be unwelcome to her and all he_riends—but I hope her engagement will have every alleviation that i_ossible—I mean, as to the character and manners of the family."
  • "Thank you, dear Miss Woodhouse. Yes, indeed, there is every thing in th_orld that can make her happy in it. Except the Sucklings and Bragges, ther_s not such another nursery establishment, so liberal and elegant, in all Mrs.
  • Elton's acquaintance. Mrs. Smallridge, a most delightful woman!—A style o_iving almost equal to Maple Grove—and as to the children, except the littl_ucklings and little Bragges, there are not such elegant sweet childre_nywhere. Jane will be treated with such regard and kindness!— It will b_othing but pleasure, a life of pleasure.—And her salary!— I really canno_enture to name her salary to you, Miss Woodhouse. Even you, used as you ar_o great sums, would hardly believe that so much could be given to a youn_erson like Jane."
  • "Ah! madam," cried Emma, "if other children are at all like what I remember t_ave been myself, I should think five times the amount of what I have ever ye_eard named as a salary on such occasions, dearly earned."
  • "You are so noble in your ideas!"
  • "And when is Miss Fairfax to leave you?"
  • "Very soon, very soon, indeed; that's the worst of it. Within a fortnight.
  • Mrs. Smallridge is in a great hurry. My poor mother does not know how to bea_t. So then, I try to put it out of her thoughts, and say, Come ma'am, do no_et us think about it any more."
  • "Her friends must all be sorry to lose her; and will not Colonel and Mrs.
  • Campbell be sorry to find that she has engaged herself before their return?"
  • "Yes; Jane says she is sure they will; but yet, this is such a situation a_he cannot feel herself justified in declining. I was so astonished when sh_irst told me what she had been saying to Mrs. Elton, and when Mrs. Elton a_he same moment came congratulating me upon it! It was before tea—stay—no, i_ould not be before tea, because we were just going to cards—and yet it wa_efore tea, because I remember thinking—Oh! no, now I recollect, now I hav_t; something happened before tea, but not that. Mr. Elton was called out o_he room before tea, old John Abdy's son wanted to speak with him. Poor ol_ohn, I have a great regard for him; he was clerk to my poor father twenty-
  • seven years; and now, poor old man, he is bed-ridden, and very poorly with th_heumatic gout in his joints— I must go and see him to-day; and so will Jane,
  • I am sure, if she gets out at all. And poor John's son came to talk to Mr.
  • Elton about relief from the parish; he is very well to do himself, you know,
  • being head man at the Crown, ostler, and every thing of that sort, but stil_e cannot keep his father without some help; and so, when Mr. Elton came back,
  • he told us what John ostler had been telling him, and then it came out abou_he chaise having been sent to Randalls to take Mr. Frank Churchill t_ichmond. That was what happened before tea. It was after tea that Jane spok_o Mrs. Elton."
  • Miss Bates would hardly give Emma time to say how perfectly new thi_ircumstance was to her; but as without supposing it possible that she coul_e ignorant of any of the particulars of Mr. Frank Churchill's going, sh_roceeded to give them all, it was of no consequence.
  • What Mr. Elton had learned from the ostler on the subject, being th_ccumulation of the ostler's own knowledge, and the knowledge of the servant_t Randalls, was, that a messenger had come over from Richmond soon after th_eturn of the party from Box Hill— which messenger, however, had been no mor_han was expected; and that Mr. Churchill had sent his nephew a few lines,
  • containing, upon the whole, a tolerable account of Mrs. Churchill, and onl_ishing him not to delay coming back beyond the next morning early; but tha_r. Frank Churchill having resolved to go home directly, without waiting a_ll, and his horse seeming to have got a cold, Tom had been sent of_mmediately for the Crown chaise, and the ostler had stood out and seen i_ass by, the boy going a good pace, and driving very steady.
  • There was nothing in all this either to astonish or interest, and it caugh_mma's attention only as it united with the subject which already engaged he_ind. The contrast between Mrs. Churchill's importance in the world, and Jan_airfax's, struck her; one was every thing, the other nothing—and she sa_using on the difference of woman's destiny, and quite unconscious on what he_yes were fixed, till roused by Miss Bates's saying,
  • "Aye, I see what you are thinking of, the pianoforte. What is to become o_hat?—Very true. Poor dear Jane was talking of it just now.— `You must go,'
  • said she. `You and I must part. You will have no business here.—Let it stay,
  • however,' said she; `give it houseroom till Colonel Campbell comes back. _hall talk about it to him; he will settle for me; he will help me out of al_y difficulties.'— And to this day, I do believe, she knows not whether it wa_is present or his daughter's."
  • Now Emma was obliged to think of the pianoforte; and the remembrance of al_er former fanciful and unfair conjectures was so little pleasing, that sh_oon allowed herself to believe her visit had been long enough; and, with _epetition of every thing that she could venture to say of the good wishe_hich she really felt, took leave.