very same distressing and delicate office to perform by Harriet, which Mrs. Weston had just gone through by herself. The intelligence, which had been so anxiously announced to her, she was now to be anxiously announcing to another. Her heart beat quick on hearing Harriet’s footstep and voice; so, she supposed, had poor Mrs. Weston felt when she was approaching Randall’s. Could the event of the disclosure bear an equal resemblance!—But of that, unfortunately, there could be no chance.
“Well, Miss Woodhouse!” cried Harriet, coming eagerly into the room—“is not this the oddest news that ever was?”
“What news do you mean?” replied Emma, unable to guess, by look or voice, whether Harriet could indeed have received any hint.
“About Jane Fairfax. Did you ever hear any thing so strange? Oh!—you need not be afraid of owning it to me, for Mr. Weston has told me himself. I met him just now. He told me it was to be a great secret; and therefore, I should not think of mentioning it to any body but you, but he said you knew it.”
“What did Mr. Weston tell you?”—said Emma. still perplexed.
“Oh! he told me all about it; that Jane Fairfax and Mr. Frank Churchill are to be married, and that they have been privately engaged to one another this long while. How very odd!”
It was indeed, so odd; Harriet’s behaviour was so etxremely odd, that Emma did not know how to understand it. Her character appeared absolutely changed. She seemed to propose showing no agitation, or disappointment, or peculiar concern in the discovery. Emma looked at her quite unable to speak.
“Had you any idea,” cried Harriet, ‘Of his being in love with her?—You perhaps, might.—You (blushing as she spoke) who can see into every body’s heart; but nobody else—”
“Upon my word,” said Emma, “I begin to doubt