Emma thanked him, but could not allow of his disappointing his friend on their account; her father was sure of his rubber. He re-urged–she redeclined; and he seemed then about to make his bow, when taking the paper from the table, she returned it–

“Oh! Here’s the charade you were so obliging as to leave with us; thank you for the sight of it. We admired it so much, that I have ventured to write it into Miss Smith’s collection. Your friend will not take it a miss I hope. Of course I have not transcribed beyond the first eight lines.

Mr. Elton certainly did not know very well what to say. He looked rather doubtingly–rather confused; said something about “honor”;–Glanced at Emma and at Harriet, and then seeing the book open on the table, took it up, and examined it very attentively. With the view of passing off an awkward moment, Emma smilingly said,

“You must make my apologies to your friend; but so good a charade must not be confined to one or two. He may be sure of every woman’s approbation while he writes with such gallantry.”

“I have no hesitation in saying, “ replied Mr. Elton, though hesitating a good deal while he spoke, “I have no hesitation in saying–at least if my friend feels at all as I do–I have not the smallest doubt that, could he see his little effusion honored as I see it, (looking at the book again, and replacing it on the table,) he would consider it as the proudest moment of his life.”

After his speech he was gone as soon as possible. Emma could not think it too soon; for with all his good and agreeable qualities, there was a sort of parade in his speeches which was very apt to incline her to laugh. She ran away to indulge the inclination, leaving the pleasure and sublime pleasure to Harriet’s share.


Chapter X.

Through now the middle of December, there had yet been no weather to prevent the young ladies from tolerably regular exercise; and on the morrow, Emma had a charitable visit to pay to a poor sick family, who lived a little way out of Highbury.

Their road to this detached cottage was down Vicarage-lane, a lane leading at right-angles from the broad, though irregular, main street of the place; and, as may be inferred, containing the blessed abode of Mr. Elton. A few inferior dwellings were first to be passed, and then, about a quarter of a mile down the lane rose the Vicarage; an old and not very good house, almost as close to the road as it could be. It had no advantage of situation; but had been very much smartened up by the present proprietor; and, such as it was, there could be no possibility of the two friends passing it without a slackened pace and observing eyes.—Emma’s remark was—

“There it is. There go you and your riddle-book one of these days.”—Harriet’s was—

“Oh! What a sweet house!— How very beautiful!—There are the yellow curtains that Miss Nash admires so much.”

“I do not often walk this way now,” said Emma, as they proceeded, “but then there will be an inducement, and I shall gradually get intimately acquainted with all the hedges, gates, pools, and pollards of this part of Highbury.”

Harriet, she found, had never in her life been within side of the Vicarage, and her curiosity to see