Emma eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 596 pages of information about Emma.

“I can never think of it,” she cried, “without extreme shame.”

“The shame,” he answered, “is all mine, or ought to be.  But is it possible that you had no suspicion?—­I mean of late.  Early, I know, you had none.”

“I never had the smallest, I assure you.”

“That appears quite wonderful.  I was once very near—­and I wish I had—­ it would have been better.  But though I was always doing wrong things, they were very bad wrong things, and such as did me no service.—­ It would have been a much better transgression had I broken the bond of secrecy and told you every thing.”

“It is not now worth a regret,” said Emma.

“I have some hope,” resumed he, “of my uncle’s being persuaded to pay a visit at Randalls; he wants to be introduced to her.  When the Campbells are returned, we shall meet them in London, and continue there, I trust, till we may carry her northward.—­But now, I am at such a distance from her—­is not it hard, Miss Woodhouse?—­ Till this morning, we have not once met since the day of reconciliation.  Do not you pity me?”

Emma spoke her pity so very kindly, that with a sudden accession of gay thought, he cried,

“Ah! by the bye,” then sinking his voice, and looking demure for the moment—­“I hope Mr. Knightley is well?” He paused.—­She coloured and laughed.—­“I know you saw my letter, and think you may remember my wish in your favour.  Let me return your congratulations.—­ I assure you that I have heard the news with the warmest interest and satisfaction.—­He is a man whom I cannot presume to praise.”

Emma was delighted, and only wanted him to go on in the same style; but his mind was the next moment in his own concerns and with his own Jane, and his next words were,

“Did you ever see such a skin?—­such smoothness! such delicacy!—­ and yet without being actually fair.—­One cannot call her fair.  It is a most uncommon complexion, with her dark eye-lashes and hair—­ a most distinguishing complexion!  So peculiarly the lady in it.—­ Just colour enough for beauty.”

“I have always admired her complexion,” replied Emma, archly; “but do not I remember the time when you found fault with her for being so pale?—­ When we first began to talk of her.—­Have you quite forgotten?”

“Oh! no—­what an impudent dog I was!—­How could I dare—­”

But he laughed so heartily at the recollection, that Emma could not help saying,

“I do suspect that in the midst of your perplexities at that time, you had very great amusement in tricking us all.—­I am sure you had.—­ I am sure it was a consolation to you.”

“Oh! no, no, no—­how can you suspect me of such a thing?  I was the most miserable wretch!”

“Not quite so miserable as to be insensible to mirth.  I am sure it was a source of high entertainment to you, to feel that you were taking us all in.—­Perhaps I am the readier to suspect, because, to tell you the truth, I think it might have been some amusement to myself in the same situation.  I think there is a little likeness between us.”

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Emma from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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