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Chapter 4
Harriet Smith's intimacy at Hartfield was soon a settled thing. Quick and decided
in her ways, Emma lost no time in inviting, encouraging, and telling her to come
very often; and as their acquaintance increased, so did their satisfaction in each
other. As a walking companion, Emma had very early foreseen how useful she
might find her. In that respect Mrs. Weston's loss had been important. Her father
never went beyond the shrubbery, where two divisions of the ground sufficed him
for his long walk, or his short, as the year varied; and since Mrs. Weston's
marriage her exercise had been too much confined. She had ventured once
alone to Randalls, but it was not pleasant; and a Harriet Smith, therefore, one
whom she could summon at any time to a walk, would be a valuable addition to
her privileges. But in every respect, as she saw more of her, she approved her,
and was confirmed in all her kind designs.
Harriet certainly was not clever, but she had a sweet, docile, grateful disposition,
was totally free from conceit, and only desiring to be guided by any one she
looked up to. Her early attachment to herself was very amiable; and her
inclination for good company, and power of appreciating what was elegant and
clever, showed that there was no want of taste, though strength of understanding
must not be expected. Altogether she was quite convinced of Harriet Smith's
being exactly the young friend she wanted--exactly the something which her
home required. Such a friend as Mrs. Weston was out of the question. Two such
could never be granted. Two such she did not want. It was quite a different sort
of thing, a sentiment distinct and independent. Mrs. Weston was the object of a
regard which had its basis in gratitude and esteem. Harriet would be loved as
one to whom she could be useful. For Mrs. Weston there was nothing to be
done; for Harriet every thing.
Her first attempts at usefulness were in an endeavour to find out who were the
parents, but Harriet could not tell. She was ready to tell every thing in her power,
but on this subject questions were vain. Emma was obliged to fancy what she
liked--but she could never believe that in the same situation she should not have
discovered the truth. Harriet had no penetration. She had been satisfied to hear
and believe just what Mrs. Goddard chose to tell her; and looked no farther.
Mrs. Goddard, and the teachers, and the girls and the affairs of the school in
general, formed naturally a great part of the conversation--and but for her
acquaintance with the Martins of Abbey-Mill Farm, it must have been the whole.
But the Martins occupied her thoughts a good deal; she had spent two very
happy months with them, and now loved to talk of the pleasures of her visit, and
describe the many comforts and wonders of the place. Emma encouraged her
talkativeness-- amused by such a picture of another set of beings, and enjoying
the youthful simplicity which could speak with so much exultation of Mrs. Martin's
having "two parlours, two very good parlours, indeed; one of them quite as large
as Mrs. Goddard's drawing-room; and of her having an upper maid who had lived
five-and-twenty years with her; and of their having eight cows, two of them
Alderneys, and one a little Welch cow, a very pretty little Welch cow indeed; and