Emma Chapter 21
Mr. Knightley was happy with the attention Emma paid to Miss Fairfax. Mr. Woodhouse too, is pleased with the charitable actions Emma has taken towards the Bates'. Mr. Knightley has news to share--Mr. Elton is getting married! At that moment Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax barge in, eager to tell the same news. They are very surprised to hear that Mr. Knightley has scooped them. Miss Bates heard from Mrs. Cole that Mr. Elton was to be married to a Miss Hawkins. But Mr. Knightley heard it from Mr. Cole first, and he got to Hartfield with the news before them. Miss Bates praised Mr. Elton and his many kindnesses to her family. It is strange news, since he has only been gone a month, and people were beginning to expect he wanted to marry in town, perhaps above his station.
Emma was glad Mr. Elton was over her, but she felt for her friend. When an agitated Harriet entered the room, Emma feared she had already heard the news. But no, Harriet had been stuck at Ford's during a rain shower, and while she waited, who should walk in but Elizabeth Martin and her brother! First the pair ignored her, then whispered to each other, then finally Elizabeth came up and spoke kindly, if a bit uncomfortably. Then Mr. Martin spoke a few words to her too, and the rain let up enough for Harriet to leave. But Mr. Martin ran after her, warning her to take another route to Hartfield, because her usual one was flooded. Emma felt the honesty and caring in this exchange, but still urged Harriet to forget about it as an unpleasant encounter. To change the subject, Emma had to tell the news of Mr. Elton more abruptly than she had wished. Harriet was mixed at the news, as her mind was still occupied with the Martins. Emma was glad Harriet did not take the news too hard.