Whenever I see her she always curtseys and asks me how I do, in a very pretty manner ; and when you have had her here to do needlework, I observe she always turns the lock of the door the right way and never bangs it. I am sure she will be an excellent servant ; and it will be a great comfort to poor Miss Taylor to have somebody about her that she is used to see. Whenever James goes over to see his daughter, you know she will be hearing of us. He will be able to tell her how we all are.”

Emma spared no exertions to maintain this happier flow of ideas, and hoped, by the help of backgammon, to get her father tolerably through the evening, and be attacked by no regrets but her own. The backgammon-table was placed, but a visitor immediately afterwards walked in and made it unnecessary.

Mr. Knightley, a sensible man about seven or eight-and-thirty, was not only a very old and intimate friend of the family, but particularly connected with it as the elder brother of Isabella’s husband. He lived about a mile from Highbury, was a frequent visitor and always welcome, and at this time more welcome than usual, as coming directly from their mutual connections in London. He had returned to a late dinner after some days of absence, and now walked up to Hartfield to say that all were well in Brunswick-square. It was a happy circumstance and animated Mr. Woodhouse for some time. Mr. Knightley had a cheerful manner which always did him good ; and his many inquiries after “poor Isabella” and her children were answered most satisfactorily. When this was over Mr. Woodhouse gratefully obsesved, “It is very kind of you, Mr. Knightley, to come out at this late hour to call upon us. I am afraid you must have had a shocking walk.”


“Not at all, sir. It is a beautiful moonlight night ; and so mild that I must draw back from your great fire.” “But you must have found it very damp and dirty. I wish you may not catch cold.”

“Dirty, sir ! Look at my shoes. Not a speck on them.”

“Well! That is quite surprizing, for we have had a vast deal of rain here. It rained dreadfully hard for half an hour, while we were at breakfast. I wanted them to put off the wedding.”

“By the bye – I have not wished you joy. Being pretty well aware of what sort of joy you must both be feeling. I have been in no hurry with my congratulations. But I hope it all went off tolerably well. How did you all behave? Who cried most?”

“Ah ! poor Miss Taylor ! ‘tis a sad business.”

“Poor Mr. and Miss Woodhouse, if you please ; but I cannot possibly say ‘poor Miss Taylor.’ I have a great regard for you and Emma; but when it comes to the question of dependence or independence! – At any rate, it must be better to have only one to please, than two.”

“Especially when one of those two is such a fanciful, troublesome creature !” said Emma playfully. “That is what you have in your head, I know – and what you would certainly say if my father were not by.”

“I believe it is very true, my dear, indeed, “ said Mr. Woodhouse with a sigh. “I am afraid I am sometimes very fanciful and troublesome.”

“My dearest papa ! You do not think I could mean you, or suppose Mr. Knightley to mean you. What a horrible idea! Oh no! I meant only myself. Mr. Knightley loves to find fault with me you know – in a joke—it is all a joke. We always say what we like to one another.”