“It is one thing,” said she presently–her cheeks in a glow–“to have very good sense in a common way, like every body else, and if there is any thing to say, to sit down and write a letter, and say just what you must, in a short way; and another, to write verses and charades like this.”

Emma could not have desired a more spirited rejection of Mr. Martin’s prose.

“Such sweet lines”–continued Harriet–“these two last! –but how shall I ever be able to return the paper, or say I have found it out?–Oh! Miss Woodhouse, what can we do about that?”

“Leave it to me. You do nothing. He will be here this evening, I dare say, and then I will give it him back, and some nonsense or other will pass between us, and you shall not be committed.–Your soft eyes shall chuse their own time for beaming. Trust to me.”

“Oh! Miss Woodhouse, what a pity that I must not write this beautiful charade into my book! I am sure I have not got one half so good.”

“Leave out the last two lines, and there is no reason why you should not write it into your book.”

“Oh! but those two lines are”–“–The best of all. Granted; for private enjoyment; and for private enjoyment keep them. they are not at all the less written you know, because you divide them. the couplet does not cease to be, nor does its meaning change. But take it away, and all appropriation ceases, and a very pretty gallant charade remains, fit for any collection. Depend upon it, he would not like to have his charade slighted, much better than his passion. A poet in love must be encouraged in both capacities, or neither. Give me the book, I will write it down, and then there can be no possible reflection on you.”

Harriet submitted, though her mind could hardly separate the parts, so as to feel quite sure that her


friend were not writing down a declaration of love. It seemed too precious an offering for any degree of publicity.

“I shall never let that book go out of my own hands,” said she.

“Very well,” replied Emma, “a most natural feeling; and the longer it lasts, the better I shall be pleased. But here is my father coming: you will not object to my reading the charade to him. It will be giving him so much pleasure! He loves any thing of the sort, and especially any thing that pays a woman a compliment. He has the tenderest spirit of gallantry towards us all!–You must let me read it to him.”

Harriet looked grave.

“My dear Harriet, you must not refine too much upon this charade.–You will betray your feelings improperly, if you are too conscious and too quick, and appear to affix more meaning, or even quite all the meaning which may be affixed to it. Do not be overpowered by such a little tribute of admiration. If he had been anxious for secrecy, he would not have left the paper while I was by; but he rather pushed it towards me than towards you. Do not let us be too solemn on the business. He has encouragement enough to proceed, without our sighing out our souls over this charade.

“Oh! no–I hope I shall not be ridiculous about it. Do as you please.”

Mr. Woodhouse came in, and very soon led to the subject again, by the recurrence of his very frequent inquiry of “Well, my dears, how does your book go on?–Have you got anything fresh?”

“Yes, papa, we have something to read you, something quite fresh. A piece of paper was found on the table this morning (dropt, we suppose, by a fairy)–containing a very pretty charade, and we have just copied it in.”