Emma HTML version

Chapter 12
One thing only was wanting to make the prospect of the ball completely
satisfactory to Emma--its being fixed for a day within the granted term of Frank
Churchill's stay in Surry; for, in spite of Mr. Weston's confidence, she could not
think it so very impossible that the Churchills might not allow their nephew to
remain a day beyond his fortnight. But this was not judged feasible. The
preparations must take their time, nothing could be properly ready till the third
week were entered on, and for a few days they must be planning, proceeding
and hoping in uncertainty--at the risk-- in her opinion, the great risk, of its being
all in vain.
Enscombe however was gracious, gracious in fact, if not in word. His wish of
staying longer evidently did not please; but it was not opposed. All was safe and
prosperous; and as the removal of one solicitude generally makes way for
another, Emma, being now certain of her ball, began to adopt as the next
vexation Mr. Knightley's provoking indifference about it. Either because he did
not dance himself, or because the plan had been formed without his being
consulted, he seemed resolved that it should not interest him, determined against
its exciting any present curiosity, or affording him any future amusement. To her
voluntary communications Emma could get no more approving reply, than,
"Very well. If the Westons think it worth while to be at all this trouble for a few
hours of noisy entertainment, I have nothing to say against it, but that they shall
not choose pleasures for me.-- Oh! yes, I must be there; I could not refuse; and I
will keep as much awake as I can; but I would rather be at home, looking over
William Larkins's week's account; much rather, I confess.-- Pleasure in seeing
dancing!--not I, indeed--I never look at it-- I do not know who does.--Fine
dancing, I believe, like virtue, must be its own reward. Those who are standing by
are usually thinking of something very different."
This Emma felt was aimed at her; and it made her quite angry. It was not in
compliment to Jane Fairfax however that he was so indifferent, or so indignant;
he was not guided by her feelings in reprobating the ball, for she enjoyed the
thought of it to an extraordinary degree. It made her animated--open hearted--
she voluntarily said;--
"Oh! Miss Woodhouse, I hope nothing may happen to prevent the ball. What a
disappointment it would be! I do look forward to it, I own, with very great
It was not to oblige Jane Fairfax therefore that he would have preferred the
society of William Larkins. No!--she was more and more convinced that Mrs.
Weston was quite mistaken in that surmise. There was a great deal of friendly
and of compassionate attachment on his side--but no love.
Alas! there was soon no leisure for quarrelling with Mr. Knightley. Two days of
joyful security were immediately followed by the over-throw of every thing. A
letter arrived from Mr. Churchill to urge his nephew's instant return. Mrs. Churchill
was unwell-- far too unwell to do without him; she had been in a very suffering
state (so said her husband) when writing to her nephew two days before, though