Emma eBook

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

The day came, the party were punctually assembled, and Mr. John Knightley seemed early to devote himself to the business of being agreeable.  Instead of drawing his brother off to a window while they waited for dinner, he was talking to Miss Fairfax.  Mrs. Elton, as elegant as lace and pearls could make her, he looked at in silence—­ wanting only to observe enough for Isabella’s information—­but Miss Fairfax was an old acquaintance and a quiet girl, and he could talk to her.  He had met her before breakfast as he was returning from a walk with his little boys, when it had been just beginning to rain.  It was natural to have some civil hopes on the subject, and he said,

“I hope you did not venture far, Miss Fairfax, this morning, or I am sure you must have been wet.—­We scarcely got home in time.  I hope you turned directly.”

“I went only to the post-office,” said she, “and reached home before the rain was much.  It is my daily errand.  I always fetch the letters when I am here.  It saves trouble, and is a something to get me out.  A walk before breakfast does me good.”

“Not a walk in the rain, I should imagine.”

“No, but it did not absolutely rain when I set out.”

Mr. John Knightley smiled, and replied,

“That is to say, you chose to have your walk, for you were not six yards from your own door when I had the pleasure of meeting you; and Henry and John had seen more drops than they could count long before.  The post-office has a great charm at one period of our lives.  When you have lived to my age, you will begin to think letters are never worth going through the rain for.”

There was a little blush, and then this answer,

“I must not hope to be ever situated as you are, in the midst of every dearest connexion, and therefore I cannot expect that simply growing older should make me indifferent about letters.”

“Indifferent!  Oh! no—­I never conceived you could become indifferent.  Letters are no matter of indifference; they are generally a very positive curse.”

“You are speaking of letters of business; mine are letters of friendship.”

“I have often thought them the worst of the two,” replied he coolly.  “Business, you know, may bring money, but friendship hardly ever does.”

“Ah! you are not serious now.  I know Mr. John Knightley too well—­ I am very sure he understands the value of friendship as well as any body.  I can easily believe that letters are very little to you, much less than to me, but it is not your being ten years older than myself which makes the difference, it is not age, but situation.  You have every body dearest to you always at hand, I, probably, never shall again; and therefore till I have outlived all my affections, a post-office, I think, must always have power to draw me out, in worse weather than to-day.”

“When I talked of your being altered by time, by the progress of years,” said John Knightley, “I meant to imply the change of situation which time usually brings.  I consider one as including the other.  Time will generally lessen the interest of every attachment not within the daily circle—­but that is not the change I had in view for you.  As an old friend, you will allow me to hope, Miss Fairfax, that ten years hence you may have as many concentrated objects as I have.”

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Emma from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.