Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 9

  • Emma did not repent her condescension in going to the Coles. The visi_fforded her many pleasant recollections the next day; and all that she migh_e supposed to have lost on the side of dignified seclusion, must be ampl_epaid in the splendour of popularity. She must have delighted th_oles—worthy people, who deserved to be made happy!—And left a name behind he_hat would not soon die away.
  • Perfect happiness, even in memory, is not common; and there were two points o_hich she was not quite easy. She doubted whether she had not transgressed th_uty of woman by woman, in betraying her suspicions of Jane Fairfax's feeling_o Frank Churchill. It was hardly right; but it had been so strong an idea, that it would escape her, and his submission to all that she told, was _ompliment to her penetration, which made it difficult for her to be quit_ertain that she ought to have held her tongue.
  • The other circumstance of regret related also to Jane Fairfax; and there sh_ad no doubt. She did unfeignedly and unequivocally regret the inferiority o_er own playing and singing. She did most heartily grieve over the idleness o_er childhood—and sat down and practised vigorously an hour and a half.
  • She was then interrupted by Harriet's coming in; and if Harriet's praise coul_ave satisfied her, she might soon have been comforted.
  • "Oh! if I could but play as well as you and Miss Fairfax!"
  • "Don't class us together, Harriet. My playing is no more like her's, than _amp is like sunshine."
  • "Oh! dear—I think you play the best of the two. I think you play quite as wel_s she does. I am sure I had much rather hear you. Every body last night sai_ow well you played."
  • "Those who knew any thing about it, must have felt the difference. The trut_s, Harriet, that my playing is just good enough to be praised, but Jan_airfax's is much beyond it."
  • "Well, I always shall think that you play quite as well as she does, or tha_f there is any difference nobody would ever find it out. Mr. Cole said ho_uch taste you had; and Mr. Frank Churchill talked a great deal about you_aste, and that he valued taste much more than execution."
  • "Ah! but Jane Fairfax has them both, Harriet."
  • "Are you sure? I saw she had execution, but I did not know she had any taste.
  • Nobody talked about it. And I hate Italian singing.— There is no understandin_ word of it. Besides, if she does play so very well, you know, it is no mor_han she is obliged to do, because she will have to teach. The Coxes wer_ondering last night whether she would get into any great family. How did yo_hink the Coxes looked?"
  • "Just as they always do—very vulgar."
  • "They told me something," said Harriet rather hesitatingly;" but it is nothin_f any consequence."
  • Emma was obliged to ask what they had told her, though fearful of it_roducing Mr. Elton.
  • "They told me—that Mr. Martin dined with them last Saturday."
  • "Oh!"
  • "He came to their father upon some business, and he asked him to stay t_inner."
  • "Oh!"
  • "They talked a great deal about him, especially Anne Cox. I do not know wha_he meant, but she asked me if I thought I should go and stay there again nex_ummer."
  • "She meant to be impertinently curious, just as such an Anne Cox should be."
  • "She said he was very agreeable the day he dined there. He sat by her a_inner. Miss Nash thinks either of the Coxes would be very glad to marry him."
  • "Very likely.—I think they are, without exception, the most vulgar girls i_ighbury."
  • Harriet had business at Ford's.—Emma thought it most prudent to go with her.
  • Another accidental meeting with the Martins was possible, and in her presen_tate, would be dangerous.
  • Harriet, tempted by every thing and swayed by half a word, was always ver_ong at a purchase; and while she was still hanging over muslins and changin_er mind, Emma went to the door for amusement.—Much could not be hoped fro_he traffic of even the busiest part of Highbury;— Mr. Perry walking hastil_y, Mr. William Cox letting himself in at the office-door, Mr. Cole'_arriage-horses returning from exercise, or a stray letter-boy on an obstinat_ule, were the liveliest objects she could presume to expect; and when he_yes fell only on the butcher with his tray, a tidy old woman travellin_omewards from shop with her full basket, two curs quarrelling over a dirt_one, and a string of dawdling children round the baker's little bow-windo_yeing the gingerbread, she knew she had no reason to complain, and was amuse_nough; quite enough still to stand at the door. A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer.
  • She looked down the Randalls road. The scene enlarged; two persons appeared; Mrs. Weston and her son-in-law; they were walking into Highbury;—to Hartfiel_f course. They were stopping, however, in the first place at Mrs. Bates's; whose house was a little nearer Randalls than Ford's; and had all but knocked, when Emma caught their eye.—Immediately they crossed the road and came forwar_o her; and the agreeableness of yesterday's engagement seemed to give fres_leasure to the present meeting. Mrs. Weston informed her that she was goin_o call on the Bateses, in order to hear the new instrument.
  • "For my companion tells me," said she, "that I absolutely promised Miss Bate_ast night, that I would come this morning. I was not aware of it myself. _id not know that I had fixed a day, but as he says I did, I am going now."
  • "And while Mrs. Weston pays her visit, I may be allowed, I hope," said Fran_hurchill, "to join your party and wait for her at Hartfield— if you are goin_ome."
  • Mrs. Weston was disappointed.
  • "I thought you meant to go with me. They would be very much pleased."
  • "Me! I should be quite in the way. But, perhaps—I may be equally in the wa_ere. Miss Woodhouse looks as if she did not want me. My aunt always sends m_ff when she is shopping. She says I fidget her to death; and Miss Woodhous_ooks as if she could almost say the same. What am I to do?"
  • "I am here on no business of my own," said Emma; "I am only waiting for m_riend. She will probably have soon done, and then we shall go home. But yo_ad better go with Mrs. Weston and hear the instrument."
  • "Well—if you advise it.—But (with a smile) if Colonel Campbell should hav_mployed a careless friend, and if it should prove to have an indifferen_one—what shall I say? I shall be no support to Mrs. Weston. She might do ver_ell by herself. A disagreeable truth would be palatable through her lips, bu_ am the wretchedest being in the world at a civil falsehood."
  • "I do not believe any such thing," replied Emma.—"I am persuaded that you ca_e as insincere as your neighbours, when it is necessary; but there is n_eason to suppose the instrument is indifferent. Quite otherwise indeed, if _nderstood Miss Fairfax's opinion last night."
  • "Do come with me," said Mrs. Weston, "if it be not very disagreeable to you.
  • It need not detain us long. We will go to Hartfield afterwards. We will follo_hem to Hartfield. I really wish you to call with me. It will be felt so grea_n attention! and I always thought you meant it."
  • He could say no more; and with the hope of Hartfield to reward him, returne_ith Mrs. Weston to Mrs. Bates's door. Emma watched them in, and then joine_arriet at the interesting counter,—trying, with all the force of her ow_ind, to convince her that if she wanted plain muslin it was of no use to loo_t figured; and that a blue ribbon, be it ever so beautiful, would still neve_atch her yellow pattern. At last it was all settled, even to the destinatio_f the parcel.
  • "Should I send it to Mrs. Goddard's, ma'am?" asked Mrs. Ford.— "Yes—no—yes, t_rs. Goddard's. Only my pattern gown is at Hartfield. No, you shall send it t_artfield, if you please. But then, Mrs. Goddard will want to see it.—And _ould take the pattern gown home any day. But I shall want the ribbo_irectly— so it had better go to Hartfield—at least the ribbon. You could mak_t into two parcels, Mrs. Ford, could not you?"
  • "It is not worth while, Harriet, to give Mrs. Ford the trouble of tw_arcels."
  • "No more it is."
  • "No trouble in the world, ma'am," said the obliging Mrs. Ford.
  • "Oh! but indeed I would much rather have it only in one. Then, if you please, you shall send it all to Mrs. Goddard's— I do not know—No, I think, Mis_oodhouse, I may just as well have it sent to Hartfield, and take it home wit_e at night. What do you advise?"
  • "That you do not give another half-second to the subject. To Hartfield, if yo_lease, Mrs. Ford."
  • "Aye, that will be much best," said Harriet, quite satisfied, "I should not a_ll like to have it sent to Mrs. Goddard's."
  • Voices approached the shop—or rather one voice and two ladies: Mrs. Weston an_iss Bates met them at the door.
  • "My dear Miss Woodhouse," said the latter, "I am just run across to entrea_he favour of you to come and sit down with us a little while, and give u_our opinion of our new instrument; you and Miss Smith. How do you do, Mis_mith?—Very well I thank you.—And I begged Mrs. Weston to come with me, that _ight be sure of succeeding."
  • "I hope Mrs. Bates and Miss Fairfax are—"
  • "Very well, I am much obliged to you. My mother is delightfully well; and Jan_aught no cold last night. How is Mr. Woodhouse?—I am so glad to hear such _ood account. Mrs. Weston told me you were here.— Oh! then, said I, I must ru_cross, I am sure Miss Woodhouse will allow me just to run across and entrea_er to come in; my mother will be so very happy to see her—and now we are suc_ nice party, she cannot refuse.—`Aye, pray do,' said Mr. Frank Churchill, `Miss Woodhouse's opinion of the instrument will be worth having.'— But, sai_, I shall be more sure of succeeding if one of you will go with me.—`Oh,'
  • said he, `wait half a minute, till I have finished my job;'—For, would yo_elieve it, Miss Woodhouse, there he is, in the most obliging manner in th_orld, fastening in the rivet of my mother's spectacles.—The rivet came out, you know, this morning.— So very obliging!—For my mother had no use of he_pectacles— could not put them on. And, by the bye, every body ought to hav_wo pair of spectacles; they should indeed. Jane said so. I meant to take the_ver to John Saunders the first thing I did, but something or other hindere_e all the morning; first one thing, then another, there is no saying what, you know. At one time Patty came to say she thought the kitchen chimney wante_weeping. Oh, said I, Patty do not come with your bad news to me. Here is th_ivet of your mistress's spectacles out. Then the baked apples came home, Mrs.
  • Wallis sent them by her boy; they are extremely civil and obliging to us, th_allises, always—I have heard some people say that Mrs. Wallis can be uncivi_nd give a very rude answer, but we have never known any thing but th_reatest attention from them. And it cannot be for the value of our custo_ow, for what is our consumption of bread, you know? Only three of us.— besides dear Jane at present—and she really eats nothing—makes such a shockin_reakfast, you would be quite frightened if you saw it. I dare not let m_other know how little she eats—so I say one thing and then I say another, an_t passes off. But about the middle of the day she gets hungry, and there i_othing she likes so well as these baked apples, and they are extremel_holesome, for I took the opportunity the other day of asking Mr. Perry; _appened to meet him in the street. Not that I had any doubt before— I have s_ften heard Mr. Woodhouse recommend a baked apple. I believe it is the onl_ay that Mr. Woodhouse thinks the fruit thoroughly wholesome. We have apple- dumplings, however, very often. Patty makes an excellent apple-dumpling. Well, Mrs. Weston, you have prevailed, I hope, and these ladies will oblige us."
  • Emma would be "very happy to wait on Mrs. Bates, &c.," and they did at las_ove out of the shop, with no farther delay from Miss Bates than,
  • "How do you do, Mrs. Ford? I beg your pardon. I did not see you before. I hea_ou have a charming collection of new ribbons from town. Jane came bac_elighted yesterday. Thank ye, the gloves do very well—only a little too larg_bout the wrist; but Jane is taking them in."
  • "What was I talking of?" said she, beginning again when they were all in th_treet.
  • Emma wondered on what, of all the medley, she would fix.
  • "I declare I cannot recollect what I was talking of.—Oh! my mother'_pectacles. So very obliging of Mr. Frank Churchill! `Oh!' said he, `I d_hink I can fasten the rivet; I like a job of this kind excessively.'—Whic_ou know shewed him to be so very… . Indeed I must say that, much as I ha_eard of him before and much as I had expected, he very far exceeds any thing… . I do congratulate you, Mrs. Weston, most warmly. He seems every thing th_ondest parent could… . `Oh!' said he, `I can fasten the rivet. I like a jo_f that sort excessively.' I never shall forget his manner. And when I brough_ut the baked apples from the closet, and hoped our friends would be so ver_bliging as to take some, `Oh!' said he directly, `there is nothing in the wa_f fruit half so good, and these are the finest-looking home-baked apples _ver saw in my life.' That, you know, was so very… . And I am sure, by hi_anner, it was no compliment. Indeed they are very delightful apples, and Mrs.
  • Wallis does them full justice—only we do not have them baked more than twice, and Mr. Woodhouse made us promise to have them done three times— but Mis_oodhouse will be so good as not to mention it. The apples themselves are th_ery finest sort for baking, beyond a doubt; all from Donwell—some of Mr.
  • Knightley's most liberal supply. He sends us a sack every year; and certainl_here never was such a keeping apple anywhere as one of his trees—I believ_here is two of them. My mother says the orchard was always famous in he_ounger days. But I was really quite shocked the other day— for Mr. Knightle_alled one morning, and Jane was eating these apples, and we talked about the_nd said how much she enjoyed them, and he asked whether we were not got t_he end of our stock. `I am sure you must be,' said he, `and I will send yo_nother supply; for I have a great many more than I can ever use. Willia_arkins let me keep a larger quantity than usual this year. I will send yo_ome more, before they get good for nothing.' So I begged he would not—fo_eally as to ours being gone, I could not absolutely say that we had a grea_any left—it was but half a dozen indeed; but they should be all kept fo_ane; and I could not at all bear that he should be sending us more, s_iberal as he had been already; and Jane said the same. And when he was gone, she almost quarrelled with me—No, I should not say quarrelled, for we neve_ad a quarrel in our lives; but she was quite distressed that I had owned th_pples were so nearly gone; she wished I had made him believe we had a grea_any left. Oh, said I, my dear, I did say as much as I could. However, th_ery same evening William Larkins came over with a large basket of apples, th_ame sort of apples, a bushel at least, and I was very much obliged, and wen_own and spoke to William Larkins and said every thing, as you may suppose.
  • William Larkins is such an old acquaintance! I am always glad to see him. But, however, I found afterwards from Patty, that William said it was all th_pples of that sort his master had; he had brought them all—and now his maste_ad not one left to bake or boil. William did not seem to mind it himself, h_as so pleased to think his master had sold so many; for William, you know, thinks more of his master's profit than any thing; but Mrs. Hodges, he said, was quite displeased at their being all sent away. She could not bear that he_aster should not be able to have another apple-tart this spring. He tol_atty this, but bid her not mind it, and be sure not to say any thing to u_bout it, for Mrs. Hodges would be cross sometimes, and as long as so man_acks were sold, it did not signify who ate the remainder. And so Patty tol_e, and I was excessively shocked indeed! I would not have Mr. Knightley kno_ny thing about it for the world! He would be so very… . I wanted to keep i_rom Jane's knowledge; but, unluckily, I had mentioned it before I was aware."
  • Miss Bates had just done as Patty opened the door; and her visitors walke_pstairs without having any regular narration to attend to, pursued only b_he sounds of her desultory good-will.
  • "Pray take care, Mrs. Weston, there is a step at the turning. Pray take care, Miss Woodhouse, ours is rather a dark staircase— rather darker and narrowe_han one could wish. Miss Smith, pray take care. Miss Woodhouse, I am quit_oncerned, I am sure you hit your foot. Miss Smith, the step at the turning."