Emma eBook

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

He stopped.—­Emma dared not attempt any immediate reply.  To speak, she was sure would be to betray a most unreasonable degree of happiness.  She must wait a moment, or he would think her mad.  Her silence disturbed him; and after observing her a little while, he added,

“Emma, my love, you said that this circumstance would not now make you unhappy; but I am afraid it gives you more pain than you expected.  His situation is an evil—­but you must consider it as what satisfies your friend; and I will answer for your thinking better and better of him as you know him more.  His good sense and good principles would delight you.—­As far as the man is concerned, you could not wish your friend in better hands.  His rank in society I would alter if I could, which is saying a great deal I assure you, Emma.—­You laugh at me about William Larkins; but I could quite as ill spare Robert Martin.”

He wanted her to look up and smile; and having now brought herself not to smile too broadly—­she did—­cheerfully answering,

“You need not be at any pains to reconcile me to the match.  I think Harriet is doing extremely well. Her connexions may be worse than his.  In respectability of character, there can be no doubt that they are.  I have been silent from surprize merely, excessive surprize.  You cannot imagine how suddenly it has come on me! how peculiarly unprepared I was!—­for I had reason to believe her very lately more determined against him, much more, than she was before.”

“You ought to know your friend best,” replied Mr. Knightley; “but I should say she was a good-tempered, soft-hearted girl, not likely to be very, very determined against any young man who told her he loved her.”

Emma could not help laughing as she answered, “Upon my word, I believe you know her quite as well as I do.—­But, Mr. Knightley, are you perfectly sure that she has absolutely and downright accepted him.  I could suppose she might in time—­but can she already?—­ Did not you misunderstand him?—­You were both talking of other things; of business, shows of cattle, or new drills—­and might not you, in the confusion of so many subjects, mistake him?—­It was not Harriet’s hand that he was certain of—­it was the dimensions of some famous ox.”

The contrast between the countenance and air of Mr. Knightley and Robert Martin was, at this moment, so strong to Emma’s feelings, and so strong was the recollection of all that had so recently passed on Harriet’s side, so fresh the sound of those words, spoken with such emphasis, “No, I hope I know better than to think of Robert Martin,” that she was really expecting the intelligence to prove, in some measure, premature.  It could not be otherwise.

“Do you dare say this?” cried Mr. Knightley.  “Do you dare to suppose me so great a blockhead, as not to know what a man is talking of?—­ What do you deserve?”

“Oh!  I always deserve the best treatment, because I never put up with any other; and, therefore, you must give me a plain, direct answer.  Are you quite sure that you understand the terms on which Mr. Martin and Harriet now are?”

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Emma from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.