his brother. He was to leave them early the next day; and he soon began with—

“Well, Emma, I do not believe I have any thing more to say about the boys; but you have your sister’s letter, and every thing is down at full length there we may be sure. My charge would be much more concise than her’s, and propably not much in the same spirit; all that I have to recommend being comprised in, do not spoil them, and do not physic them.”

“I rather hope to satisfy you both,” said Emma, “for I shall do all in my power to make them happy, which will be enough for Isabella; and the happiness must preclude false indulgence and physic.”

“And if you find them troublesome, you must send them home again.”

“That is very likely. You think so, do not you?”

“I hope I am aware that they may be too noisy for your father—or even may be some incumbrance to you, if your visiting-engagements continue to increase as much as they have done lately.”


“Certainly; you must be sensible that the last half year has made a great difference in your way of life.”

“Difference! No indeed I am not.”

“There can be no doubt of your being much more engaged with company than you used to be. Witness this very time. Here am I come down for only one day, and you are engaged with a dinner-party!—When did it happen before, or any thing like it? Your neighbourhood is increasing, and you mix more with it. A little while ago, every letter to Isabella brought an account of fresh gaieties; dinners at Mr. Cole’s, or balls at the Crown. The difference which Randalls, Randalls alone makes in your goings-on, is very great.”


“Yes,” said his brother quickly, “it is Randalls that does it all.”

“Very well—and as Randalls, I suppose, is not likely to have less influence than heretofore, it strikes me as a possible thing, Emma, that Henry and John may be sometimes in the way. And if they are, I only beg you to send them home.”

“No,” cried Mr. Knightley, “that need not be the consequence. Let them be sent to Donwell. I shall certainly be at leisure.”

“Upon my word,” exclaimed Emma, “you amuse me! I should like to know how many of all my numerous engagements take place without your being of the party; and why I am to be supposed in danger of wanting leisure to attend to the little boys. These amazing engagements of mine—what have they been? Dining once with the Coles—and having a ball talked of, which never took place. I can understand you—(nodding at Mr. John Knightley)—your good fortune in meeting with so many of your friends at once here, delights you too much to pass unnoticed. But you, (turning to Mr. Knightley,) who know how very, very seldom I am ever two hours from Hartfield, why you should foresee such a series of dissipation for me, I cannot imagine. And as to my dear little boys, I must say, that if aunt Emma has not time for them, I do not think they would fare much better with uncle Knightley, who is absent from home about five hours where she is absent one—and who, when he is at home, is either reading to himself or settling his accounts.”

Mr. Knightley seemed to be trying not to smile; and succeeded without difficulty, upon Mrs. Elton’s beginning to talk to him.