“Six years hence! dear Miss Woodhouse, he would be thirty years old!”

“Well, and that is as early as most men can afford to marry, who are not born into independence. Mr. Martin, I imagine has his fortune entirely to make–cannot be at all beforehand with the world. Whatever money he might come into when his father died, whatever his share of the family property, it is, I dare say, all afloat, all employed in his stock, and so forth; and though, with diligence and good luck, he may be rich in time, it is next to impossible that he should have realised any thing yet.”

“To be sure, so it is. But they live very comfortably. They have no inn-doors man–else they do not want for any thing; and Mrs. Martin talks of taking a boy another year.”

“I wish you may not get into a scrape, Harriet, whenever he does marry;–I mean as to being acquainted with his wife–for though his sisters, from a superior education, are not to be altogether objected to, it does not follow that he might marry any body at all fit for you to notice. The misfortune of your birth ought to make you particularly careful as to your associates. There can be no doubt of your being a gentleman’s daughter, and you must support your claim to that station by every thing within your own power, or there will be plenty of people who would take pleasure in degrading you.”

“Yes, to be sure–I suppose there are. But while I visit at Hartfield, and you are so kind to me, Miss Woodhouse, I am not afraid of what any body can do.”

“You understand the force of influence pretty well, Harriet; but I would have you so firmly established in good society, as to be independent even of Hartfield and Miss Woodhouse. I want to see you permanently well connected– and to that end it will be advisable to have as few odd acquaintance as


may be; and, therefore, I say that if you should still be in this country when Mr. Martin marries, I wish you may not be drawn in, by your intimacy with the sisters, to be acquainted with the wife, who will probably be some mere farmer’s daughter, without education.”

“To be sure. Yes. Not that I think Mr. Martin would ever marry any body but what had had some education–and been very well brought up. However, I do not mean to set up my opinion against your’s—and I am sure I shall not wish for the acquaintance of his wife. I shall always have a great regard for the Miss Martin’s, especially Elizabeth, and should be very sorry to give them up, for they are quite as well educated as me. But if he marries a very ignorant, vulgar woman, certainly I had better not visit her, if I can help it.”

Emma watched her through the fluctuations of this speech, and saw no alarming symptoms of love. The young man had been the first admirer, but she trusted there was no other hold, and that there would be no serious difficulty on Harriet’s side to oppose any friendly arrangement of her own.

They met Mr. Martin the very next day, as they were walking on the Donwell Road. He was on foot, and after looking very respectfully at her, looked with most unfeigned satisfaction at her companion. Emma was not sorry to have such an opportunity of survey; and walking a few yards forward, while they talked together, soon made her quick eye sufficiently acquainted with Mr. Robert Martin. His appearance was very neat, and he looked like a sensible young man, but his person had no other advantage; and when he came to be contrasted with gentlemen, she thought he must lose all the ground he had gained in Harriet’s inclination. Harriet was not insensible of manner;