Goddard’s for news of her fair friend, the last thing before he prepared for the happiness of meeting her again, when he hoped to be able to give a better report; and he sighed and smiled himself off in a way that left the balance of approbation much in his favour.

After a few minutes of entire silence between them, John Knightley began with—

“I never in my life saw a man more intent on being agreeable than Mr. Elton. It is downright labour to him where ladies are concerned. With me he can be rational and unaffected, but when he has ladies to please every feature works.”

“Mr. Elton’s manners are not perfect,” replied Emma; “but where there is a wish to please, one ought to overlook, and one does overlook a great deal. Where a man does his best with only moderate powers, he will have the advantage over negligent superiority. There is such a perfect good temper and good will in Mr. Elton as one cannot but value.”

“Yes,” said Mr. John Knightley presently, with some slyness, “he seems to have a great deal of good will towards you.”

“Me,” she replied with a smile of astonishment, “are you imagining me to be Mr. Elton’s object?”

“Such an imagination has crossed me, I own, Emma; and if it never occurred to you before, you may as well take it into consideration now.”

“Mr. Elton in love with me!—What an idea!”

“I do not say it is so; but you will do well to consider whether it is so or not, and to regulate your behaviour accordingly. I think your manners to him encouraging. I speak as a friend, Emma. You had better look about you, and ascertain what you do, and what you mean to do.”

“I thank you; but I assure you you are quite mistaken. Mr. Elton and I are very good friends,


and nothing more;” and she walked on, amusing herself in the consideration of the blunders which often arise from a partial knowledge of circumstances, of the mistakes which people of high pretentions to judgement are for ever falling into; and not very well pleased with her brother for imagining her blind and ignorant, and in want of counsel. He said no more.

Mr. Woodhouse had so completely made up his mind to the visit, that in spite of the increasing coldness he seemed to have no idea of shrinking from it, and set forward at last most punctually with his eldest daughter in his own carriage, with less apparent consciousness of the weather than either of the others; too full of the wonder of his own going, and the pleasure it was to afford at Randalls to see that it was cold, and too well wrapt up to feel it. The cold, however, was severe; and by the time the second carriage was in motion, a few flakes of snow were finding their way down, and the sky had the appearance of being so over-charged as to want only a milder air to produce a very white world in a very short time.

Emma soon saw that her companion was not in the happiest humour. The preparing and the going abroad in such weather, with the sacrifice of his children after dinner, were evils, were disagreeables at least, which Mr. John Knightley did not by any means like; he anticipated nothing in the visit that could be at all worth the purchase ; and the whole of their drive to the Vicarage was spent by him in expressing his discontent.

“A man,” said he, “must have a very good opinion of himself when he asks people to leave their own fire-side, and encounter such a day as this, for the sake of coming to see him. He must think himself a most agreeable fellow ; I could not do such a thing. It is the greatest absurdity—Actually snowing at