Emma

Page 75

If ever there were people who, without having great wealth themselves, had every thing they could wish for, I am sure it is us. We may well say that `our lot is cast in a goodly heritage.' Well, Mr. Knightley, and so you actually saw the letter; well--"

"It was short--merely to announce--but cheerful, exulting, of course."-- Here was a sly glance at Emma. "He had been so fortunate as to-- I forget the precise words--one has no business to remember them. The information was, as you state, that he was going to be married to a Miss Hawkins. By his style, I should imagine it just settled."

"Mr. Elton going to be married!" said Emma, as soon as she could speak. "He will have every body's wishes for his happiness."

"He is very young to settle," was Mr. Woodhouse's observation. "He had better not be in a hurry. He seemed to me very well off as he was. We were always glad to see him at Hartfield."

"A new neighbour for us all, Miss Woodhouse!" said Miss Bates, joyfully; "my mother is so pleased!--she says she cannot bear to have the poor old Vicarage without a mistress. This is great news, indeed. Jane, you have never seen Mr. Elton!--no wonder that you have such a curiosity to see him."

Jane's curiosity did not appear of that absorbing nature as wholly to occupy her.

"No--I have never seen Mr. Elton," she replied, starting on this appeal; "is he--is he a tall man?"

"Who shall answer that question?" cried Emma. "My father would say `yes,' Mr. Knightley `no;' and Miss Bates and I that he is just the happy medium. When you have been here a little longer, Miss Fairfax, you will understand that Mr. Elton is the standard of perfection in Highbury, both in person and mind."

"Very true, Miss Woodhouse, so she will. He is the very best young man--But, my dear Jane, if you remember, I told you yesterday he was precisely the height of Mr. Perry. Miss Hawkins,--I dare say, an excellent young woman. His extreme attention to my mother-- wanting her to sit in the vicarage pew, that she might hear the better, for my mother is a little deaf, you know--it is not much, but she does not hear quite quick. Jane says that Colonel Campbell is a little deaf. He fancied bathing might be good for it--the warm bath-- but she says it did him no lasting benefit. Colonel Campbell, you know, is quite our angel. And Mr. Dixon seems a very charming young man, quite worthy of him. It is such a happiness when good people get together--and they always do. Now, here will be Mr. Elton and Miss Hawkins; and there are the Coles, such very good people; and the Perrys--I suppose there never was a happier or a better couple than Mr. and Mrs. Perry. I say, sir," turning to Mr. Woodhouse, "I think there are few places with such society as Highbury. I always say, we are quite blessed in our neighbours.--My dear sir, if there is one thing my mother loves better than another, it is pork-- a roast loin of pork--"

"As to who, or what Miss Hawkins is, or how long he has been acquainted with her," said Emma, "nothing I suppose can be known. One feels that it cannot be a very long acquaintance. He has been gone only four weeks."

Nobody had any information to give; and, after a few more wonderings, Emma said,

"You are silent, Miss Fairfax--but I hope you mean to take an interest in this news. You, who have been hearing and seeing so much of late on these subjects, who must have been so deep in the business on Miss Campbell's account--we shall not excuse your being indifferent about Mr. Elton and Miss Hawkins."

"When I have seen Mr. Elton," replied Jane, "I dare say I shall be interested--but I believe it requires _that_ with me. And as it is some months since Miss Campbell married, the impression may be a little worn off."

"Yes, he has been gone just four weeks, as you observe, Miss Woodhouse," said Miss Bates, "four weeks yesterday.--A Miss Hawkins!--Well, I had always rather fancied it would be some young lady hereabouts; not that I ever--Mrs. Cole once whispered to me--but I immediately said, `No, Mr.

Emma Page 76

Jane Austen

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