Emma Chapter 54
Harriet would soon return from London, and Emma is worried. Mr. Knightley has news regarding Emma's friend, which he fears Emma will not like. Harriet has accepted Mr. Martin's proposal of marriage. Emma is speechless and relieved. Mr. Martin met Miss Smith while he was in London on business. They were both at a party, and the next night a dinner. At that dinner, he proposed and she accepted. Mr. Knightley acknowledges Mr. Martin's low position, but also that the match is a good one for Harriet. Mr. Martin is a good man, and that is most important. Emma tells Mr. Knightley her silence is not from disapproval, merely surprise. Emma asks Mr. Knightley if he was sure of the story, a question that offends him. Of course he is sure, he even advised Mr. Martin himself. His time spent with Harriet was meant to find out her feelings, so he could best direct Mr. Martin. Emma laughs to herself, at what her friend imagined these attentions to mean. She is happy for her, and pleased her meddling has not ruined Harriet's life.
Emma, in high spirits, visits the Westons with her father. They are not there long before Frank Churchill and Miss Fairfax arrive. They are awkward at first, but the addition of the baby and the Westons relieves the trio. Emma gives Frank Churchill her forgiveness, which he is happy to receive. He is surprised to hear that Emma had no suspicion of the engagement. He has heard of her own attachment, and congratulates her. But the lover is soon moved to the subject of his beloved, whom he admires from across the room. He praises her complexion, which Emma reminds him he once criticized. They talk of the months of secrecy, and their common bond. "'If not in our dispositions...there is a likeness in our destiny; the destiny which bids fair to connect us with two characters so much superior to our own.'" Chapter 54, pg. 440 They all laugh about the incident involving Mr. Perry and his carriage, which Mr. Knightley had interpreted correctly as evidence of a secret attachment. Emma left that day happy for the couple, but even happier that she had secured the superior of the two men. Thoughts of Mr. Knightley's good character cheered her all the way home.