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Chapter 17
When the ladies returned to the drawing-room after dinner, Emma found it hardly
possible to prevent their making two distinct parties;-- with so much
perseverance in judging and behaving ill did Mrs. Elton engross Jane Fairfax and
slight herself. She and Mrs. Weston were obliged to be almost always either
talking together or silent together. Mrs. Elton left them no choice. If Jane
repressed her for a little time, she soon began again; and though much that
passed between them was in a half-whisper, especially on Mrs. Elton's side,
there was no avoiding a knowledge of their principal subjects: The post-office--
catching cold--fetching letters--and friendship, were long under discussion; and to
them succeeded one, which must be at least equally unpleasant to Jane--
inquiries whether she had yet heard of any situation likely to suit her, and
professions of Mrs. Elton's meditated activity.
"Here is April come!" said she, "I get quite anxious about you. June will soon be
"But I have never fixed on June or any other month--merely looked forward to the
summer in general."
"But have you really heard of nothing?"
"I have not even made any inquiry; I do not wish to make any yet."
"Oh! my dear, we cannot begin too early; you are not aware of the difficulty of
procuring exactly the desirable thing."
"I not aware!" said Jane, shaking her head; "dear Mrs. Elton, who can have
thought of it as I have done?"
"But you have not seen so much of the world as I have. You do not know how
many candidates there always are for the first situations. I saw a vast deal of that
in the neighbourhood round Maple Grove. A cousin of Mr. Suckling, Mrs. Bragge,
had such an infinity of applications; every body was anxious to be in her family,
for she moves in the first circle. Wax-candles in the schoolroom! You may
imagine how desirable! Of all houses in the kingdom Mrs. Bragge's is the one I
would most wish to see you in."
"Colonel and Mrs. Campbell are to be in town again by midsummer," said Jane.
"I must spend some time with them; I am sure they will want it;--afterwards I may
probably be glad to dispose of myself. But I would not wish you to take the
trouble of making any inquiries at present."
"Trouble! aye, I know your scruples. You are afraid of giving me trouble; but I
assure you, my dear Jane, the Campbells can hardly be more interested about
you than I am. I shall write to Mrs. Partridge in a day or two, and shall give her a
strict charge to be on the look-out for any thing eligible."
"Thank you, but I would rather you did not mention the subject to her; till the time
draws nearer, I do not wish to be giving any body trouble."
"But, my dear child, the time is drawing near; here is April, and June, or say even
July, is very near, with such business to accomplish before us. Your inexperience
really amuses me! A situation such as you deserve, and your friends would