Chapter XIX.

One morning, about ten days after Mrs. Churchill’s decease, Emma was called down stairs to Mr. Weston, who “could not stay five minutes, and wanted particularly to speak with her.”—He met her at the parlour door, and hardly asking her how she did, in the natural key of his voice, sunk it immediately, to say, unheard by her father,

“Can you come to Randall’s at any time this morning?—Do, if it be possible. Mrs. Weston wants to see you. She must see you.”

“Is she unwell?”

“No, no, not at all—only a little agitated. She would have ordered the carriage, and come to you, but she must see you alone, and that you know—(nodding towards her father)—Humph!—Can you come?”

“Certainly. This moment, if you please. It is impossible to refuse what you ask in such a way. But what can be the matter?—Is she really not ill?”

“Depend upon me—but ask no more questions. You will know it all in time. The most unaccountable business! But hush, hush!”

To guess what all this meant, was impposible even for Emma. Something really important seemed announced by his looks; but, as her friend was well, she endeavoured not to be uneasy, and settling it with her father, that she would take her walk now, she and Mr. Weston were soon out of the house together, and on their way at a quick pace for Randall’s.

“Now,”—said Emma, when they were fairly beyond the sweep gates, –“now Mr. Weston, do let me know what has happened.”

“No, no,”—he gravely replied.—“Don’t ask me. I promised my wife to leave it all to her. She will break it to you better than I can. Do not be impatient, Emma; it will all come out too soon.”


“Break it to me,” cried Emma, standing still with terror.—“Good God!—Mr. Weston, tell me at once.—Something has happened in Brunswick Square. I know it has. Tell me, I charge you tell me this moment what it is.”

“No, indeed you are mistaken.”–

“Mr. Weston do not trifle with me.—Consider how many of my dearest friends are now in Brunswick Square. Which of them is it?—I charge you by all that is sacred, not to attempt concealment.”

“Upon my word, Emma.”—

“Your word!—why not your honour!—why not say upon your honour, that it has nothing to do with any of them? Good Heavens!—What can be broke to me, that does relate to one of that family?”

“Upon my honour,” said he very seriously, “it does not. It is not in the smallest degree connected with any human being of the name Knightley.”

Emma’s courage returned, and she walked on.

“I was wrong,” he continued, “in talking of its being broke to you. I should not have used the expression. In fact, it does not concern you—it concerns only myself,--that is, we hope.—“Humph!—In short, my dear Emma, there is no occasion to be so uneasy about it. I don’t say that it is not a disagreeable business—but things might be much worse.—If we walk fast, we shall soon be at Randall’s.”

Emma found that she must wait; and now it required little effort. She asked no more questions therefore, merely employed her own fancy, and that soon pointed out to her the probability of its being some money concern—something just come to light, of a disagreeable nature in the circumstances of the family,--something which the late event at Richmond had brought forward. Her fancy was very active. Half a dozen natural children, perhaps—and poor Frank cut off!—This, though very undesirable, would be no matter of agony to her. It inspired little more than an animating curiosity.


VOL. ii.