Emma eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 469 pages of information about Emma.

“We cannot suppose that she has any great enjoyment at the Vicarage, my dear Emma—­but it is better than being always at home.  Her aunt is a good creature, but, as a constant companion, must be very tiresome.  We must consider what Miss Fairfax quits, before we condemn her taste for what she goes to.”

“You are right, Mrs. Weston,” said Mr. Knightley warmly, “Miss Fairfax is as capable as any of us of forming a just opinion of Mrs. Elton.  Could she have chosen with whom to associate, she would not have chosen her.  But (with a reproachful smile at Emma) she receives attentions from Mrs. Elton, which nobody else pays her.”

Emma felt that Mrs. Weston was giving her a momentary glance; and she was herself struck by his warmth.  With a faint blush, she presently replied,

“Such attentions as Mrs. Elton’s, I should have imagined, would rather disgust than gratify Miss Fairfax.  Mrs. Elton’s invitations I should have imagined any thing but inviting.”

“I should not wonder,” said Mrs. Weston, “if Miss Fairfax were to have been drawn on beyond her own inclination, by her aunt’s eagerness in accepting Mrs. Elton’s civilities for her.  Poor Miss Bates may very likely have committed her niece and hurried her into a greater appearance of intimacy than her own good sense would have dictated, in spite of the very natural wish of a little change.”

Both felt rather anxious to hear him speak again; and after a few minutes silence, he said,

“Another thing must be taken into consideration too—­Mrs. Elton does not talk to Miss Fairfax as she speaks of her.  We all know the difference between the pronouns he or she and thou, the plainest spoken amongst us; we all feel the influence of a something beyond common civility in our personal intercourse with each other—­ a something more early implanted.  We cannot give any body the disagreeable hints that we may have been very full of the hour before.  We feel things differently.  And besides the operation of this, as a general principle, you may be sure that Miss Fairfax awes Mrs. Elton by her superiority both of mind and manner; and that, face to face, Mrs. Elton treats her with all the respect which she has a claim to.  Such a woman as Jane Fairfax probably never fell in Mrs. Elton’s way before—­and no degree of vanity can prevent her acknowledging her own comparative littleness in action, if not in consciousness.”

“I know how highly you think of Jane Fairfax,” said Emma.  Little Henry was in her thoughts, and a mixture of alarm and delicacy made her irresolute what else to say.

“Yes,” he replied, “any body may know how highly I think of her.”

“And yet,” said Emma, beginning hastily and with an arch look, but soon stopping—­it was better, however, to know the worst at once—­ she hurried on—­“And yet, perhaps, you may hardly be aware yourself how highly it is.  The extent of your admiration may take you by surprize some day or other.”

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Emma from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.