pwilsonuch... @pwilsonuchenna @pwilsonuchenna 1 year ago I enjoyed the story!💜
Emma could not feel a doubt of having given Harriet’s fancy a proper direction and raised the gratitude of her young vanity to a very good purpose, for she found her decidedly more sensible than before of Mr. Elton’s being a remarkably handsome man, with most agreeable manners; and as she had no hesitation in following up the assurance of his admiration by agreeable hints, she was soon pretty confident of creating as much liking on Harriet’s side, as there could be any occasion for.
She was quite convinced of Mr. Elton's being in the fairest way of falling in love, if not in love already. She had no scruple with regard to him. He talked of Harriet and praised her so warmly that she could not suppose anything was wanting which a little time would not add. His perception of the striking improvement of Harriet's manner since her introduction at Hartfield was not one of the least agreeable proofs of his growing attachment. "You have given Miss Smith all that she required," said he; "you have made her graceful and easy. She was a beautiful creature when she came to you, but, in my opinion, the attractions you have added are infinitely superior to what she received from nature." "I am glad you think I have been useful to her, but Harriet only wanted drawing out and receiving a few, very few hints. She had all the natural grace of sweetness of temper and artlessness in herself. I have done very little." "If it were admissible to contradict a lady," said the gallant Mr. Elton — "I have perhaps given her a little more decision of character, have taught her to think on points which had not fallen in her way before."
"Exactly so; that is what principally strikes me. So much superadded decision of character! Skillful has been the hand!" "Great has been the pleasure, I am sure. I never met with a disposition more truly amiable." "I have no doubt of it." And it was spoken with a sort of sighing animation, which had a vast deal of the lover. She was not less pleased another day with the manner in which he seconded a sudden wish of hers to have Harriet's picture. "Did you ever have your likeness taken, Harriet?" said she: "did you ever sit for your picture?" Harriet was on the point of leaving the room and only stopped to say, with a very interesting naivete, "Oh! Dear, no, never." No sooner was she out of sight than Emma exclaimed,
"What an exquisite possession a good picture of her would be! I would give any money for it. I almost long to attempt her likeness myself. You do not know it, I dare say, but two or three years ago, I had a great passion for taking likenesses, and attempted several of my friends, and was thought to have a tolerable eye in general. But from one cause or another, I gave it up in disgust. But really, I could almost venture if Harriet would sit to me. It would be such a delight to have her picture!" "Let me entreat you," cried Mr. Elton; "it would indeed be a delight! Let me entreat you, Miss Woodhouse, to exercise so charming a talent in favor of your friend. I know what your drawings are. How could you suppose me ignorant? Is not this room rich in specimens of your landscapes and flowers, and has not Mrs. Weston some inimitable figure-pieces in her drawing-room at Randalls?"
Yes, good man! — thought Emma — but what has all that to do with taking likenesses? You know nothing of drawing. Don't pretend to be in raptures about mine. Keep your raptures for Harriet's face. "Well, if you give me such kind encouragement, Mr. Elton, I believe I shall try what I can do. Harriet's features are very delicate, which makes a likeness difficult, and yet there is a peculiarity in the shape of the eye and the lines about the mouth which one ought to catch." "Exactly so — The shape of the eye and the lines about the mouth — I have not a doubt of your success. Pray, pray, attempt it. As you will do it, it will indeed, to use your own words,
The very day of Mr. Elton's going to London produced a fresh occasion for Emma's services towards her friend. Harriet had been at Hartfield, as usual, soon after breakfast; and, after a time, had gone home to return again to dinner: she returned, and sooner than had been talked of, and with an agitated, hurried look, announcing something extraordinary to have happened which she was longing to tell. Half a minute brought it all out. She had heard, as soon as she got back to Mrs. Goddard's, that Mr. Martin had been there an hour before and, finding she was not at home nor particularly expected, had left a little parcel for her from one of his sisters, and gone away; and on opening this parcel, she had actually found, besides the two songs which she had lent Elizabeth to copy, a letter to herself; and this letter was from him, from Mr. Martin, and contained a direct proposal of marriage. "Who could have thought it? She was so surprised she did not know what to do. Yes, quite a proposal of marriage, and a very good letter, at least she thought so. And he wrote as if he really loved her very much — but she did not know — and so, she was come as fast as she could to ask Miss Woodhouse what she should do. —" Emma was half-ashamed of her friend for seeming so pleased and so doubtful.
"Upon my word," she cried, "the young man is determined not to lose anything for want of asking. He will connect himself well if he can." "Will you read the letter?" cried Harriet. "Pray do. I'd rather you would." Emma was not sorry to be pressed. She read and was surprised. The style of the letter was much above her expectation. There were merely no grammatical errors, but as a composition, it would not have disgraced a gentleman; the language, though plain, was strong and unaffected, and the sentiments it conveyed very much to the credit of the writer. It was short but expressed good sense, warm attachment, liberality, propriety, and even delicacy of feeling. She paused over it while Harriet stood anxiously watching for her opinion with a "Well, well," and was at last forced to add, "Is it a good letter? or is it too short?"
"Yes, indeed, a very good letter," replied Emma rather slowly —" so good a letter, Harriet, that everything considered, I think one of his sisters must have helped him. I can hardly imagine the young man whom I saw talking with you the other day could express himself so well if left quite to his own powers, and yet it is not the style of a woman; no, certainly, it is too strong and concise; not diffuse enough for a woman. No doubt he is a sensible man, and I suppose he may have a natural talent for — thinks strongly and clearly — and when he takes a pen in hand, his thoughts naturally find proper words. It is so with some men. Yes, I understand the sort of mind. Vigorous, decided, with sentiments to a certain point, not coarse. A better-written letter, Harriet (returning it) than I had expected."
"Well," said the still waiting Harriet —" well — and — and what shall I do?" "What shall you do! In what respect? Do you mean with regard to this letter?" "Yes." "But what are you in doubt of? You must answer it, of course — and speedily." "Yes. But what shall I say? Dear Miss Woodhouse, do advise me." "Oh no, no! the letter had much better be all your own. You will express yourself very properly, I am sure. There is no danger of your not being intelligible, which is the first thing. Your meaning must be unequivocal; no doubts or demurs: and such expressions of gratitude and concern for the pain you are inflicting as propriety requires will present themselves unbidden to your mind, I am persuaded. You need not be prompted to write with the appearance of sorrow for his disappointment." "You think I ought to refuse him then," said Harriet, looking down. "Ought to refuse him! My dear Harriet, what do you mean? Are you in any doubt?
Harriet slept at Hartfield that night. For some weeks past, she had been spending more than half her time there and gradually getting to have a bedroom appropriated to herself, and Emma judged it best in every respect, safest and kindest, to keep her with them as much as possible just at present. She was obliged to go the next morning for an hour or two to Mrs. Goddard's, but it was then to be settled that she should return to Hartfield to make a regular visit of some days.
While she was gone, Mr. Knightley called and sat some time with Mr. Woodhouse and Emma till Mr. Woodhouse, who had previously made up his mind to walk out, was persuaded by his daughter not to defer it and was induced by the entreaties of both, though against the scruples of his own civility, to leave Mr. Knightley for that purpose. Mr. Knightley, who had nothing of ceremony about him, was offering by his short, decided answers an amusing contrast to the protracted apologies and civil hesitations of the other. "Well, I believe, if you will excuse me, Mr. Knightley, if you will not consider me as doing a very rude thing, I shall take Emma's advice and go out for a quarter of an hour. As the sun is out, I believe I had better take my three turns while I can. I treat you without ceremony, Mr. Knightley. We invalids think we are privileged people."
"My dear sir, do not make a stranger of me." "I leave an excellent substitute in my daughter. Emma will be happy to entertain you. And therefore, I think I will beg your excuse and take my three turns — my winter walk." "You cannot do better, sir." "I would ask for the pleasure of your company, Mr. Knightley, but I am a very slow walker, and my pace would be tedious to you; and, besides, you have another long walk before you to Donwell Abbey." "Thank you, sir, thank you; I am going this moment myself, and I think the sooner you go, the better. I will fetch your greatcoat and open the garden door for you." Mr. Woodhouse, at last, was off; but Mr. Knightley, instead of being immediately off likewise, sat down again, seemingly inclined for more chat. He began speaking of Harriet and speaking of her with more voluntary praise than Emma had ever heard before.
"I cannot rate her beauty as you do," said he, "but she is a pretty little creature, and I am inclined to think very well of her disposition. Her character depends upon those she is with, but in good hands, she will turn out a valuable woman." "I am glad you think so, and the good hands, I hope, may not be wanting." "Come," said he, "you are anxious for a compliment, so I will tell you that you have improved her. You have cured her of her school-girl's giggle; she really does you credit." "Thank you. I should be mortified indeed if I did not believe I had been of some use, but it is not everybody who will bestow praise where they may. You do not often overpower me with it." "You are expecting her again, you say, this morning?"
"Almost every moment. She has been gone longer already than she intended." "Something has happened to delay her; some visitors perhaps." "Highbury gossips! — Tiresome wretches!" "Harriet may not consider everybody tiresome that you would." Emma knew this was too true for contradiction and therefore said nothing. He presently added, with a smile, "I do not pretend to fix on times or places, but I must tell you that I have good reason to believe your little friend will soon hear of something to her advantage." "Indeed! how so? of what sort?" "A very serious sort, I assure you," still smiling. "Very serious! I can think of but one thing — Who is in love with her? Who makes you their confidant?" Emma was more than half in hopes of Mr. Elton's having dropped a hint. Mr. Knightley was a sort of general friend and adviser, and she knew Mr. Elton looked up to him. "I have reason to think
Mr. Knightley might quarrel with her, but Emma could not quarrel with herself. He was so much displeased that it was longer than usual before he came to Hartfield again, and when they did meet, his grave looks shewed that she was not forgiven. She was sorry but could not repent. On the contrary, her plans and proceedings were more and more justified and endeared to her by the general appearances of the next few days. The Picture, elegantly framed, came safely to hand soon after Mr. Elton's return, and being hung over the mantelpiece of the common sitting-room, he got up to look at it and sighed out his half sentences of admiration just as he ought; and as for Harriet's feelings, they were visibly forming themselves into as strong and steady an attachment as her youth and sort of mind admitted. Emma was soon perfectly satisfied with Mr. Martin's being no otherwise remembered than as he furnished a contrast with Mr. Elton, of the utmost advantage to the latter.
Her views of improving her little friend's mind by a great deal of useful reading and conversation had never yet led to more than a few first chapters and the intention of going on tomorrow. It was much easier to chat than to study; much pleasanter to let her imagination range and work at Harriet's fortune than to be laboring to enlarge her comprehension or exercise it on sober facts; and the only literary pursuit which engaged Harriet at present, the only mental provision she was making for the evening of life, was the collecting and transcribing all the riddles of every sort that she could meet with, into a thin quarto of hot-pressed paper, made up by her friend, and ornamented with ciphers and trophies.
In this age of literature, such collections on a very grand scale are not uncommon. Miss Nash, head-teacher at Mrs. Goddard's, had written out at least three hundred; and Harriet, who had taken the first hint of it from her, hoped, with Miss Woodhouse's help, to get a great many more. Emma assisted with her invention, memory, and taste, and as Harriet wrote a very pretty hand, it was likely to be an arrangement of the first order, in form as well as quantity. Mr. Woodhouse was almost as much interested in the business as the girls and tried very often to recollect something worth they're putting in. "So many clever riddles as there used to be when he was young — he wondered he could not remember them! but he hoped he should in time." And it always ended in "Kitty, a fair but frozen maid."
His good friend Perry, too, whom he had spoken to on the subject, did not at present recollect anything of the riddle kind; but he had desired Perry to be upon the watch, and as he went about so much, something, he thought, might come from that quarter. It was by no means his daughter's wish that the intellects of Highbury, in general, should be put under requisition. Mr. Elton was the only one whose assistance she asked for. He was invited to contribute any really good enigmas, charades, or conundrums that he might recollect; and she had the pleasure of seeing him most intently at work with his recollections; and, at the same time, as she could perceive, most earnestly careful that nothing ungallant, nothing that did not breathe a compliment to the sex should pass his lips. They owed him their two or three politest puzzles; and the joy and exultation with which at last he recalled, and rather sentimentally recited, that well-known charade,
My first doth affliction denote, Which my second is destin'd to feel, and my whole is the best antidote That affliction to soften and heal. — it made her quite sorry to acknowledge that they had transcribed it some pages ago already. "Why will not you write one yourself for us, Mr. Elton?" said she; "that is the only security for its freshness, and nothing could be easier to you." "Oh no! he had never written, hardly ever, anything of the kind in his life. The stupidest fellow!
Though now the middle of December, there had yet been no weather to prevent the young ladies from tolerably regular exercise, and on the morrow, Emma had a charitable visit to pay to a poor sick family, who lived a little way out of Highbury. Their road to this detached cottage was down Vicarage Lane, a lane leading at right angles from the broad, though irregular, the main street of the place; and, as may be inferred, containing the blessed abode of Mr. Elton. A few inferior dwellings were first to be passed, and then, about a quarter of a mile down the lane rose the Vicarage, an old and not very good house, almost as close to the road as it could be. It had no advantage of the situation; but had been very much smartened up by the present proprietor, and, such as it was, there could be no possibility of the two friends passing it without a slackened pace and observing eyes. — Emma's remark was —
"There it is. There go you and your riddle-book one of these days."— Harriet's was — "Oh, what a sweet house! — How very beautiful! — There are the yellow curtains that Miss Nash admires so much." "I do not often walk this way now," said Emma, as they proceeded, "but then there will be an inducement, and I shall gradually get intimately acquainted with all the hedges, gates, pools, and pollards of this part of Highbury." Harriet, she found, had never in her life been within side the Vicarage, and her curiosity to see it was so extreme that, considering exteriors and probabilities, Emma could only class it, as a proof of love, with Mr. Elton's seeing ready wit in her. "I wish we could contrive it," said she, "but I cannot think of any tolerable pretense for going in — no servant that I want to inquire about of his housekeeper — no message from my father."
She pondered but could think of nothing. After a mutual silence of some minutes, Harriet thus began again — "I do so wonder, Miss Woodhouse, that you should not be married or going to be married! So charming as you are!"— Emma laughed and replied, "My being charming, Harriet, is not quite enough to induce me to marry; I must find other people charming — one other person at least. And I am not only not going to be married at present but have very little intention of ever marrying at all." "Ah! — so you say, but I cannot believe it." "I must see somebody very superior to any one I have seen yet, to be tempted; Mr. Elton, you know, (recollecting herself) is out of the question: and I do not wish to see any such person. I would rather not be tempted. I cannot really change for the better. If I were to marry, I must expect to repent it."
"Dear me! — it is so odd to hear a woman talk so!"— "I have none of the usual inducements of women to marry. Were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing! But I never have been in love; it is not the way of my nature, and I do not think I ever shall. And, without love, I am sure I should be a fool to change such a situation as mine. Fortune I do not want; employment I do not want; consequence I do not want: I believe few married women are half as much mistress of their husband's house as I am of Hartfield; and never, never could I expect to be so truly beloved and important; so always first and always right in any man's eyes as I am in my father's." "But then, to be an old maid at last, like Miss Bates!"
"That is as formidable an image as you could present, Harriet; and if I thought I should ever be like Miss Bates! so silly — so satisfied — so smiling — so prosing — so undistinguishing and unfastidious — and so apt to tell every thing relative to every body about me, I would marry to-morrow. But between us, I am convinced there never can be any likeness, except in being unmarried." "But still, you will be an old maid! and that's so dreadful!" "Never mind, Harriet, I shall not be a poor old maid; and it is poverty only
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