Emma Chapter 3
Mr. Woodhouse is an eccentric man, and though he does not like to go out often, he does enjoy the company of his friends. Luckily the house is well situated, with Donwell Abbey, the home of Mr. Knightley, and the Westons' home close by. Emma arranged for visits, and tried to keep his evenings full. Their longest and closest friends were the Westons and Mr. Knightley. But they had other acquaintances too, including the preacher Mr. Elton, Mrs. Bates, Miss Bates, and Mrs. Goddard. Mrs. Bates was an aging widow, not exceptional. But her daughter, Miss Bates, was uncommonly popular considering she was not wealthy, pretty, clever, or married. But she was sweet, kind, and modest, and everyone liked her. She took care of her mother, took an interest in everyone, and was a terrible chatterbox. Mrs. Goddard ran a boarding school, which produced moderately accomplished young women. One of her pupils was Harriet Smith, and Mrs. Goddard asked to bring her to Hartfield one evening. Miss Smith was of questionable birth, though her mystery benefactor was wealthy enough to pay for her schooling. She was pretty, and though not a clever girl, Emma determined to make Harriet her friend. Harriet had just returned from visiting the Martin family in their Donwell home. Emma, who had decided without proof that Harriet must be of the upper class, felt that the Martins were too low an acquaintance. She decided to introduce Harriet to "better" people, and find her new friends.
That evening at supper the anxious Mr. Woodhouse urged his guests to stay away from the rich foods at table, and to try only a tiny bit of boiled egg or gruel. Emma did her best to feed her guests, and the evening was cheerful, with Harriet feeling proud to have received such attention from the great Miss Woodhouse.