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

“I have reason to think,” he replied, “that Harriet Smith will soon have an offer of marriage, and from a most unexceptionable quarter:—­Robert Martin is the man.  Her visit to Abbey-Mill, this summer, seems to have done his business.  He is desperately in love and means to marry her.”

“He is very obliging,” said Emma; “but is he sure that Harriet means to marry him?”

“Well, well, means to make her an offer then.  Will that do?  He came to the Abbey two evenings ago, on purpose to consult me about it.  He knows I have a thorough regard for him and all his family, and, I believe, considers me as one of his best friends.  He came to ask me whether I thought it would be imprudent in him to settle so early; whether I thought her too young:  in short, whether I approved his choice altogether; having some apprehension perhaps of her being considered (especially since your making so much of her) as in a line of society above him.  I was very much pleased with all that he said.  I never hear better sense from any one than Robert Martin.  He always speaks to the purpose; open, straightforward, and very well judging.  He told me every thing; his circumstances and plans, and what they all proposed doing in the event of his marriage.  He is an excellent young man, both as son and brother.  I had no hesitation in advising him to marry.  He proved to me that he could afford it; and that being the case, I was convinced he could not do better.  I praised the fair lady too, and altogether sent him away very happy.  If he had never esteemed my opinion before, he would have thought highly of me then; and, I dare say, left the house thinking me the best friend and counsellor man ever had.  This happened the night before last.  Now, as we may fairly suppose, he would not allow much time to pass before he spoke to the lady, and as he does not appear to have spoken yesterday, it is not unlikely that he should be at Mrs. Goddard’s to-day; and she may be detained by a visitor, without thinking him at all a tiresome wretch.”

“Pray, Mr. Knightley,” said Emma, who had been smiling to herself through a great part of this speech, “how do you know that Mr. Martin did not speak yesterday?”

“Certainly,” replied he, surprized, “I do not absolutely know it; but it may be inferred.  Was not she the whole day with you?”

“Come,” said she, “I will tell you something, in return for what you have told me.  He did speak yesterday—­that is, he wrote, and was refused.”

This was obliged to be repeated before it could be believed; and Mr. Knightley actually looked red with surprize and displeasure, as he stood up, in tall indignation, and said,

“Then she is a greater simpleton than I ever believed her.  What is the foolish girl about?”

“Oh! to be sure,” cried Emma, “it is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage.  A man always imagines a woman to be ready for any body who asks her.”

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