Emma eBook

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

Mr. Knightley was hard at work upon the lower buttons of his thick leather gaiters, and either the exertion of getting them together, or some other cause, brought the colour into his face, as he answered,

“Oh! are you there?—­But you are miserably behindhand.  Mr. Cole gave me a hint of it six weeks ago.”

He stopped.—­Emma felt her foot pressed by Mrs. Weston, and did not herself know what to think.  In a moment he went on—­

“That will never be, however, I can assure you.  Miss Fairfax, I dare say, would not have me if I were to ask her—­and I am very sure I shall never ask her.”

Emma returned her friend’s pressure with interest; and was pleased enough to exclaim,

“You are not vain, Mr. Knightley.  I will say that for you.”

He seemed hardly to hear her; he was thoughtful—­and in a manner which shewed him not pleased, soon afterwards said,

“So you have been settling that I should marry Jane Fairfax?”

“No indeed I have not.  You have scolded me too much for match-making, for me to presume to take such a liberty with you.  What I said just now, meant nothing.  One says those sort of things, of course, without any idea of a serious meaning.  Oh! no, upon my word I have not the smallest wish for your marrying Jane Fairfax or Jane any body.  You would not come in and sit with us in this comfortable way, if you were married.”

Mr. Knightley was thoughtful again.  The result of his reverie was, “No, Emma, I do not think the extent of my admiration for her will ever take me by surprize.—­I never had a thought of her in that way, I assure you.”  And soon afterwards, “Jane Fairfax is a very charming young woman—­but not even Jane Fairfax is perfect.  She has a fault.  She has not the open temper which a man would wish for in a wife.”

Emma could not but rejoice to hear that she had a fault.  “Well,” said she, “and you soon silenced Mr. Cole, I suppose?”

“Yes, very soon.  He gave me a quiet hint; I told him he was mistaken; he asked my pardon and said no more.  Cole does not want to be wiser or wittier than his neighbours.”

“In that respect how unlike dear Mrs. Elton, who wants to be wiser and wittier than all the world!  I wonder how she speaks of the Coles—­ what she calls them!  How can she find any appellation for them, deep enough in familiar vulgarity?  She calls you, Knightley—­what can she do for Mr. Cole?  And so I am not to be surprized that Jane Fairfax accepts her civilities and consents to be with her.  Mrs. Weston, your argument weighs most with me.  I can much more readily enter into the temptation of getting away from Miss Bates, than I can believe in the triumph of Miss Fairfax’s mind over Mrs. Elton.  I have no faith in Mrs. Elton’s acknowledging herself the inferior in thought, word, or deed; or in her being under any restraint beyond her own scanty rule of good-breeding.  I cannot imagine that she will not be continually insulting her visitor with praise, encouragement, and offers of service; that she will not be continually detailing her magnificent intentions, from the procuring her a permanent situation to the including her in those delightful exploring parties which are to take place in the barouche-landau.”

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Emma from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.