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Chapter 11
Mr. Elton must now be left to himself. It was no longer in Emma's power to
superintend his happiness or quicken his measures. The coming of her sister's
family was so very near at hand, that first in anticipation, and then in reality, it
became henceforth her prime object of interest; and during the ten days of their
stay at Hartfield it was not to be expected--she did not herself expect-- that any
thing beyond occasional, fortuitous assistance could be afforded by her to the
lovers. They might advance rapidly if they would, however; they must advance
somehow or other whether they would or no. She hardly wished to have more
leisure for them. There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they
will do for themselves.
Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley, from having been longer than usual absent from
Surry, were exciting of course rather more than the usual interest. Till this year,
every long vacation since their marriage had been divided between Hartfield and
Donwell Abbey; but all the holidays of this autumn had been given to sea-bathing
for the children, and it was therefore many months since they had been seen in a
regular way by their Surry connections, or seen at all by Mr. Woodhouse, who
could not be induced to get so far as London, even for poor Isabella's sake; and
who consequently was now most nervously and apprehensively happy in
forestalling this too short visit.
He thought much of the evils of the journey for her, and not a little of the fatigues
of his own horses and coachman who were to bring some of the party the last
half of the way; but his alarms were needless; the sixteen miles being happily
accomplished, and Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley, their five children, and a
competent number of nursery-maids, all reaching Hartfield in safety. The bustle
and joy of such an arrival, the many to be talked to, welcomed, encouraged, and
variously dispersed and disposed of, produced a noise and confusion which his
nerves could not have borne under any other cause, nor have endured much
longer even for this; but the ways of Hartfield and the feelings of her father were
so respected by Mrs. John Knightley, that in spite of maternal solicitude for the
immediate enjoyment of her little ones, and for their having instantly all the liberty
and attendance, all the eating and drinking, and sleeping and playing, which they
could possibly wish for, without the smallest delay, the children were never
allowed to be long a disturbance to him, either in themselves or in any restless
attendance on them.
Mrs. John Knightley was a pretty, elegant little woman, of gentle, quiet manners,
and a disposition remarkably amiable and affectionate; wrapped up in her family;
a devoted wife, a doting mother, and so tenderly attached to her father and sister
that, but for these higher ties, a warmer love might have seemed impossible. She
could never see a fault in any of them. She was not a woman of strong
understanding or any quickness; and with this resemblance of her father, she
inherited also much of his constitution; was delicate in her own health, over-
careful of that of her children, had many fears and many nerves, and was as fond
of her own Mr. Wingfield in town as her father could be of Mr. Perry. They were