Emma Chapter 15
After dinner and tea Mr. Woodhouse wanted to go home, but the others encouraged him to stay longer. Mr. Elton continued to bother Emma, but he did inquire about her friend Miss Smith. Shortly after he changed his focus; concerned that Miss Woodhouse might get sick too, he insisted she not visit Harriet again. Acting like her lover, Mr. Elton chatted on like this until Emma could take no more and moved her seat. There was an interruption then from Mr. John Knightley, who was disturbed about the snow, which had begun to fall. In a calculated move, he spoke his concerns to Mr. Woodhouse, who immediately became anxious. The others tried to calm Mr. Woodhouse, but everything Mr. Knightley said was meant only to agitate the old man more. Only Mr. George Knightley was able to calm the situation; he had checked outside, and
there was scarcely any snow on the ground. Though everything was safe now, Isabella and Mr. Woodhouse were still anxious to get back to Hartfield.
They traveled in two carriages, and Mr. John Knightley mistakenly got into his wife's carriage, leaving Emma to ride alone with Mr. Elton. Soon after the uncomfortable ride began, Mr. Elton grabbed Miss Woodhouse's hand and professed his love to her! Shocked and offended, Emma asked him about Miss Smith. He said he never thought of her like that, and all the attentions he paid to her were only because she was Miss Woodhouse's friend. Finding herself terribly mistaken, Emma told him she did not return his affections. But what of Harriet? Mr. Elton felt Miss Smith to be too far a step down for him, for though poor, he did have standards. Mortified, she rejects him again, decisively. Realizing what her answer is, Mr. Elton sits in a silent rage, feeling slighted and humiliated. Upon reaching his house, he leaves without a word. At Hartfield Mr. Knightley is apologetic for deserting Miss Woodhouse, and Emma found herself obliged to spend the evening in society before she could retire and reexamine the night's events.