on, and it was all melancholy stagnation. Mrs. Elton’s resources were inadequate to such an attack.
“Is not this most vexatious, Knightley?” she cried.—And such weather for exploring!—These delays and disappointments are quite odious. What are we to do?—The year will wear away at this rate, and nothing done. Before this time last year I assure you we had had a delightful exploring party from Maple Grove to Kings Weston.”
“You had better explore to Donwell,” replied Mr. Knightley. “That may be done without horses. Come and eat my strawberries. They are ripening fast.”
If Mr. Knightley did not begin seriously, he was obliged to proceed so, for his proposal was caught at with delight; and the “Oh! I should like it of all things,” was not plainer in words than manner. Donwell was famous for its strawberry-beds, which seemed a plea for the invitation: but no plea was necessary; cabbage-beds would have been enough to tempt the lady, who only wanted to be going some-where. She promised him again and again to come—much oftener than he doubted—and was extremely gratified by such a proof of intimacy, such a distinguishing compliment as she chose to consider it.
“You may depend upon me,” said she. “I certainly will come. Name your day, and I will come. You will allow me to bring Jane Fairfax?”
“I cannot name a day,” said he, “till I have spoken to some others whom I would wish to meet you.”
“Oh! leave all that to me. Only give me a carte-blanche.—I am Lady Patroness, you know! It is my party. I will bring friends with me.”
“I hope you will bring Elton,” said he:—but I will not trouble you to give any other invitations.”
“Oh! now you are looking very sly. But consider;—you need not be afraid of delegating power to me. I am no young lady on her preferment. Married-