Though now the middle of December, there had yet been no weather to prevent
the young ladies from tolerably regular exercise; and on the morrow, Emma had
a charitable visit to pay to a poor sick family, who lived a little way out of
Their road to this detached cottage was down Vicarage Lane, a lane leading at
right angles from the broad, though irregular, main street of the place; and, as
may be inferred, containing the blessed abode of Mr. Elton. A few inferior
dwellings were first to be passed, and then, about a quarter of a mile down the
lane rose the Vicarage, an old and not very good house, almost as close to the
road as it could be. It had no advantage of situation; but had been very much
smartened up by the present proprietor; and, such as it was, there could be no
possibility of the two friends passing it without a slackened pace and observing
eyes.--Emma's remark was--
"There it is. There go you and your riddle-book one of these days."-- Harriet's
"Oh, what a sweet house!--How very beautiful!--There are the yellow curtains that
Miss Nash admires so much."
"I do not often walk this way now," said Emma, as they proceeded, "but then
there will be an inducement, and I shall gradually get intimately acquainted with
all the hedges, gates, pools and pollards of this part of Highbury."
Harriet, she found, had never in her life been within side the Vicarage, and her
curiosity to see it was so extreme, that, considering exteriors and probabilities,
Emma could only class it, as a proof of love, with Mr. Elton's seeing ready wit in
"I wish we could contrive it," said she; "but I cannot think of any tolerable
pretence for going in;--no servant that I want to inquire about of his housekeeper-
-no message from my father."
She pondered, but could think of nothing. After a mutual silence of some
minutes, Harriet thus began again--
"I do so wonder, Miss Woodhouse, that you should not be married, or going to be
married! so charming as you are!"--
Emma laughed, and replied,
"My being charming, Harriet, is not quite enough to induce me to marry; I must
find other people charming--one other person at least. And I am not only, not
going to be married, at present, but have very little intention of ever marrying at
"Ah!--so you say; but I cannot believe it."
"I must see somebody very superior to any one I have seen yet, to be tempted;
Mr. Elton, you know, (recollecting herself,) is out of the question: and I do not
wish to see any such person. I would rather not be tempted. I cannot really
change for the better. If I were to marry, I must expect to repent it."
"Dear me!--it is so odd to hear a woman talk so!"--