Emma Chapter 39
Thinking back on the ball, Emma was pleased with her conversation with Mr. Knightley, pleased to find themselves of similar opinions. She was very grateful for his treatment of Harriet, who now seemed completely cured of Mr. Elton. Emma imagined that her friend had finally seen that Mr. Elton was not a perfect man. Emma was happy, but found her peace interrupted when Frank Churchill and Harriet came through the gates of Hartfield. Harriet was pale and terrified, leaning on Mr. Churchill. Miss Smith was out walking with Miss Bickerton, a fellow boarder at Mrs. Goddard's. While walking on an isolated path, they met a band of gypsies. When they began begging from the two young ladies, Miss Bickerton ran away up a hill. Harriet tried to follow, but could not make it. The gypsies fell upon her, and she gave them money and pleaded to be let alone. She was starting to make her escape when Frank Churchill appeared. He scared the gypsies away and helped Harriet home.
Emma could imagine nothing short of love blooming from this chivalric act. The timing was perfect--it would allow Frank Churchill to get over her, and help Harriet to finish forgetting Mr. Elton. She thought of this a long while, then her thoughts turned to her father, who was very troubled by the news of such brutality, and so close to home! The story, and the gypsies, did not linger long, except among Emma's nephews, who loved to hear her tell it.