Poor old Mrs. Bates, civil and humble as usual, looked as if she did not quite understand what was going on.
“I am afraid Jane is not very well,” said she, “but I do not know; they tell me she is well. I dare say my daughter will be here presently, Miss Woodhouse. I hope you find a chair. I wish Hetty had not gone. I am very little able—Have you a chair, ma’am? Do you sit where you like? I am sure she will be here presently.”
Emma seriously hoped she would. She had a moment’s fear of Miss Bates keeping away from her. But Miss Bates soon came—“Very happy and obliged”—but Emma’s conscience told her that there was not the same cheerful volubility as before—less ease of look and manner. A very friendly inquiry after Miss Fairfax, she hoped, might lead the way to a return of old feelings. The touch seemed immediate.
“Ah! Miss Woodhouse, how kind you are!—I suppose you have heard— and are come to give us joy. This does not seem much like joy, indeed, in me—(twinkling away a tear or two)—but it will be very trying for us to part with her, after having had her so long, and she has a dreadful headache just now, writing all the morning:— such long letters, you know, to be written to Colonel Campbell, and Mrs. Dixon. `My dear,’ said I, `you will blind yourself’— for tears were in her eyes perpetually. One cannot wonder, one cannot wonder. It is a great change; and though she is amazingly fortunate—such a situation, I suppose, as no young woman before ever met with on first going out—do not think us ungrateful, Miss Woodhouse, for such surprising good fortune—(again dispersing her tears)—but, poor dear soul! if you were to see what a headache she has. When one is in great pain, you know one cannot feel any blessing quite as it may deserve. She is as low as possible. To look at her, nobody would think how delighted and happy she is to have secured such a situation. You will excuse her not coming to you—she is not able—she is gone into her own room— I want her to lie down upon the bed. `My dear,’ said I, `I shall say you are laid down upon the bed:’ but, however, she is not; she is walking about the room. But, now that she has written her letters, she says she shall soon be well. She will be extremely sorry to miss seeing you, Miss Woodhouse, but your kindness will excuse her. You were kept waiting at the door—I was quite ashamed— but somehow there was a little bustle—for it so happened that we had not heard the knock, and till you were on the stairs, we did not know any body was coming. `It is only Mrs. Cole,’ said I, `depend upon it. Nobody else would come so early.’ `Well,’ said she, `it must be borne some time or other, and it may as well be now.’ But then Patty came in, and said it was you. `Oh!’ said I, `it is Miss Woodhouse: I am sure you will like to see her.’— `I can see nobody,’ said she; and up she got, and would go away; and that was what made us keep you waiting—and extremely sorry and ashamed we were. `If you must go, my dear,’ said I, `you must, and I will say you are laid down upon the bed.’”