Emma HTML version

Chapter 14
Some change of countenance was necessary for each gentleman as they walked
into Mrs. Weston's drawing-room;--Mr. Elton must compose his joyous looks, and
Mr. John Knightley disperse his ill-humour. Mr. Elton must smile less, and Mr.
John Knightley more, to fit them for the place.--Emma only might be as nature
prompted, and shew herself just as happy as she was. To her it was real
enjoyment to be with the Westons. Mr. Weston was a great favourite, and there
was not a creature in the world to whom she spoke with such unreserve, as to his
wife; not any one, to whom she related with such conviction of being listened to
and understood, of being always interesting and always intelligible, the little
affairs, arrangements, perplexities, and pleasures of her father and herself. She
could tell nothing of Hartfield, in which Mrs. Weston had not a lively concern; and
half an hour's uninterrupted communication of all those little matters on which the
daily happiness of private life depends, was one of the first gratifications of each.
This was a pleasure which perhaps the whole day's visit might not afford, which
certainly did not belong to the present half-hour; but the very sight of Mrs.
Weston, her smile, her touch, her voice was grateful to Emma, and she
determined to think as little as possible of Mr. Elton's oddities, or of any thing else
unpleasant, and enjoy all that was enjoyable to the utmost.
The misfortune of Harriet's cold had been pretty well gone through before her
arrival. Mr. Woodhouse had been safely seated long enough to give the history of
it, besides all the history of his own and Isabella's coming, and of Emma's being
to follow, and had indeed just got to the end of his satisfaction that James should
come and see his daughter, when the others appeared, and Mrs. Weston, who
had been almost wholly engrossed by her attentions to him, was able to turn
away and welcome her dear Emma.
Emma's project of forgetting Mr. Elton for a while made her rather sorry to find,
when they had all taken their places, that he was close to her. The difficulty was
great of driving his strange insensibility towards Harriet, from her mind, while he
not only sat at her elbow, but was continually obtruding his happy countenance
on her notice, and solicitously addressing her upon every occasion. Instead of
forgetting him, his behaviour was such that she could not avoid the internal
suggestion of "Can it really be as my brother imagined? can it be possible for this
man to be beginning to transfer his affections from Harriet to me?--Absurd and
insufferable!"-- Yet he would be so anxious for her being perfectly warm, would
be so interested about her father, and so delighted with Mrs. Weston; and at last
would begin admiring her drawings with so much zeal and so little knowledge as
seemed terribly like a would-be lover, and made it some effort with her to
preserve her good manners. For her own sake she could not be rude; and for
Harriet's, in the hope that all would yet turn out right, she was even positively
civil; but it was an effort; especially as something was going on amongst the
others, in the most overpowering period of Mr. Elton's nonsense, which she
particularly wished to listen to. She heard enough to know that Mr. Weston was
giving some information about his son; she heard the words "my son," and