Mrs. Elton was first seen at church: but though devotion might be interrupted,
curiosity could not be satisfied by a bride in a pew, and it must be left for the
visits in form which were then to be paid, to settle whether she were very pretty
indeed, or only rather pretty, or not pretty at all.
Emma had feelings, less of curiosity than of pride or propriety, to make her
resolve on not being the last to pay her respects; and she made a point of
Harriet's going with her, that the worst of the business might be gone through as
soon as possible.
She could not enter the house again, could not be in the same room to which she
had with such vain artifice retreated three months ago, to lace up her boot,
without recollecting. A thousand vexatious thoughts would recur. Compliments,
charades, and horrible blunders; and it was not to be supposed that poor Harriet
should not be recollecting too; but she behaved very well, and was only rather
pale and silent. The visit was of course short; and there was so much
embarrassment and occupation of mind to shorten it, that Emma would not allow
herself entirely to form an opinion of the lady, and on no account to give one,
beyond the nothing-meaning terms of being "elegantly dressed, and very
She did not really like her. She would not be in a hurry to find fault, but she
suspected that there was no elegance;--ease, but not elegance.-- She was
almost sure that for a young woman, a stranger, a bride, there was too much
ease. Her person was rather good; her face not unpretty; but neither feature, nor
air, nor voice, nor manner, were elegant. Emma thought at least it would turn out
As for Mr. Elton, his manners did not appear--but no, she would not permit a
hasty or a witty word from herself about his manners. It was an awkward
ceremony at any time to be receiving wedding visits, and a man had need be all
grace to acquit himself well through it. The woman was better off; she might have
the assistance of fine clothes, and the privilege of bashfulness, but the man had
only his own good sense to depend on; and when she considered how peculiarly
unlucky poor Mr. Elton was in being in the same room at once with the woman he
had just married, the woman he had wanted to marry, and the woman whom he
had been expected to marry, she must allow him to have the right to look as little
wise, and to be as much affectedly, and as little really easy as could be.
"Well, Miss Woodhouse," said Harriet, when they had quitted the house, and
after waiting in vain for her friend to begin; "Well, Miss Woodhouse, (with a gentle
sigh,) what do you think of her?-- Is not she very charming?"
There was a little hesitation in Emma's answer.
"Oh! yes--very--a very pleasing young woman."
"I think her beautiful, quite beautiful."
"Very nicely dressed, indeed; a remarkably elegant gown."
"I am not at all surprised that he should have fallen in love."