The appearance of the little sitting-room as they entered, was tranquillity itself;
Mrs. Bates, deprived of her usual employment, slumbering on one side of the
fire, Frank Churchill, at a table near her, most deedily occupied about her
spectacles, and Jane Fairfax, standing with her back to them, intent on her
Busy as he was, however, the young man was yet able to show a most happy
countenance on seeing Emma again.
"This is a pleasure," said he, in rather a low voice, "coming at least ten minutes
earlier than I had calculated. You find me trying to be useful; tell me if you think I
"What!" said Mrs. Weston, "have not you finished it yet? you would not earn a
very good livelihood as a working silversmith at this rate."
"I have not been working uninterruptedly," he replied, "I have been assisting Miss
Fairfax in trying to make her instrument stand steadily, it was not quite firm; an
unevenness in the floor, I believe. You see we have been wedging one leg with
paper. This was very kind of you to be persuaded to come. I was almost afraid
you would be hurrying home."
He contrived that she should be seated by him; and was sufficiently employed in
looking out the best baked apple for her, and trying to make her help or advise
him in his work, till Jane Fairfax was quite ready to sit down to the pianoforte
again. That she was not immediately ready, Emma did suspect to arise from the
state of her nerves; she had not yet possessed the instrument long enough to
touch it without emotion; she must reason herself into the power of performance;
and Emma could not but pity such feelings, whatever their origin, and could not
but resolve never to expose them to her neighbour again.
At last Jane began, and though the first bars were feebly given, the powers of the
instrument were gradually done full justice to. Mrs. Weston had been delighted
before, and was delighted again; Emma joined her in all her praise; and the
pianoforte, with every proper discrimination, was pronounced to be altogether of
the highest promise.
"Whoever Colonel Campbell might employ," said Frank Churchill, with a smile at
Emma, "the person has not chosen ill. I heard a good deal of Colonel Campbell's
taste at Weymouth; and the softness of the upper notes I am sure is exactly what
he and all that party would particularly prize. I dare say, Miss Fairfax, that he
either gave his friend very minute directions, or wrote to Broadwood himself. Do
not you think so?"
Jane did not look round. She was not obliged to hear. Mrs. Weston had been
speaking to her at the same moment.
"It is not fair," said Emma, in a whisper; "mine was a random guess. Do not
He shook his head with a smile, and looked as if he had very little doubt and very
little mercy. Soon afterwards he began again,