out, and found it highly entertaining, though it was something which she judged it proper to appear to censure; for she said, “Nonsense! for shame!” He heard Frank Churchill next say, with a glance towards Jane, “I will give it to her—shall I?”—and as clearly heard Emma opposing it with eager laughing warmth. “No, no, you must not; you shall not, indeed.”

It was done however. This gallant young man, who seemed to love without feeling, and to recommend himself without complaisance, directly handed over the word to Miss Fairfax, and with a particular degree of sedate civility entreated her to study it. Mr. Knightley’s excessive curiosity to know what this word might be, made him seize every possible moment for darting his eye towards it, and it was not long before he saw it to be Dixon. Jane Fairfax’s perception certainly seemed to accompany his; her comprehension was certainly more equal to the covert meaning, the superior intelligence, of those five letters so arranged. She was evidently displeased; looked up, and seeing herself watched, blushed more deeply than he had ever perceived her, and saying only, “I did not know that proper names were allowed,” pushed away the letters with even an angry spirit, and looked resolved to be engaged by no other word that could be offered. Her face was averted from those who had made the attack, and turned towards her aunt.

“Ay, very true, my dear,” cried the latter, though Jane had not spoken a word—“I was just going to say the same thing. It is time for us to be going indeed. The evening is closing in, and grand-mamma will be looking for us. My dear sir, you are too obliging. We really must wish you a good night.”

Jane’s alertness in moving, proved her as ready as her aunt had preconceived. She was immediate ly up, and wanting to quit the table; but so many


were also moving, that she count not get away; and Mr. Knightley thought he saw another collection of letters anxiously pushed towards her, and resolutely swept away by her unexamined. She was afterwards looking for her shawl—Frank Churchill was looking also—it was growing dusk, and the room was in confusion; and how they parted, Mr. Knightley could not tell.

He remained at Hartfield after all the rest, his thoughts were full of what he had seen; so full, that when the candles came to assist his observations, he must—yes, he certainly must, as a friend—an anxious friend—give Emma some hint, ask her some question. He could not see her in a situation of such danger, without trying to preserve her. It was his duty.

“Pray, Emma,” said he, “may I ask in what lay the great amusement, the poignant sting of the last word given to you and Miss Eairfax? I saw the word, and am curious to know how it could be so very entertaining to the one, and so very distressing to the other.”

Emma was extremely confused. She could not endure to give him the true explanation; for though her suspicions were by no means removed, she was really ashamed of having ever imparted them.

“Oh!” she cried in evident embarrassment, “it all meant nothing; a mere joke among ourselves.”

“The joke,” he replied gravely, “seemed confined to you and Mr. Churchill.”

He had hoped she would speak again, but she did not. She would rather busy herself about any thing than speak. He sat a little while in doubt. A variety of evils crossed his mind. Interference—fruitless interference. Emma’s confusion, and the acknowledged antimacy, seemed to declare her affection engaged. Yet he would speak. He owed it to her, to risk any thing that might be involved in an unwelcome interference, rather than her welfare;