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

Emma was most sincerely interested.  Her heart had been long growing kinder towards Jane; and this picture of her present sufferings acted as a cure of every former ungenerous suspicion, and left her nothing but pity; and the remembrance of the less just and less gentle sensations of the past, obliged her to admit that Jane might very naturally resolve on seeing Mrs. Cole or any other steady friend, when she might not bear to see herself.  She spoke as she felt, with earnest regret and solicitude—­sincerely wishing that the circumstances which she collected from Miss Bates to be now actually determined on, might be as much for Miss Fairfax’s advantage and comfort as possible.  “It must be a severe trial to them all.  She had understood it was to be delayed till Colonel Campbell’s return.”

“So very kind!” replied Miss Bates.  “But you are always kind.”

There was no bearing such an “always;” and to break through her dreadful gratitude, Emma made the direct inquiry of—­

“Where—­may I ask?—­is Miss Fairfax going?”

“To a Mrs. Smallridge—­charming woman—­most superior—­to have the charge of her three little girls—­delightful children.  Impossible that any situation could be more replete with comfort; if we except, perhaps, Mrs. Suckling’s own family, and Mrs. Bragge’s; but Mrs. Smallridge is intimate with both, and in the very same neighbourhood:—­lives only four miles from Maple Grove.  Jane will be only four miles from Maple Grove.”

“Mrs. Elton, I suppose, has been the person to whom Miss Fairfax owes—­”

“Yes, our good Mrs. Elton.  The most indefatigable, true friend.  She would not take a denial.  She would not let Jane say, `No;’ for when Jane first heard of it, (it was the day before yesterday, the very morning we were at Donwell,) when Jane first heard of it, she was quite decided against accepting the offer, and for the reasons you mention; exactly as you say, she had made up her mind to close with nothing till Colonel Campbell’s return, and nothing should induce her to enter into any engagement at present—­and so she told Mrs. Elton over and over again—­and I am sure I had no more idea that she would change her mind!—­but that good Mrs. Elton, whose judgment never fails her, saw farther than I did.  It is not every body that would have stood out in such a kind way as she did, and refuse to take Jane’s answer; but she positively declared she would not write any such denial yesterday, as Jane wished her; she would wait—­and, sure enough, yesterday evening it was all settled that Jane should go.  Quite a surprize to me!  I had not the least idea!—­Jane took Mrs. Elton aside, and told her at once, that upon thinking over the advantages of Mrs. Smallridge’s situation, she had come to the resolution of accepting it.—­I did not know a word of it till it was all settled.”

“You spent the evening with Mrs. Elton?”

“Yes, all of us; Mrs. Elton would have us come.  It was settled so, upon the hill, while we were walking about with Mr. Knightley. `You must all spend your evening with us,’ said she—­`I positively must have you all come.’”

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