have a better taste than to think of Mr. Frank Churchill who is like nobody by his side. And that you should have been so mistaken, is amazing;—I am sure, but for believing that you entirely approved and meant to encourage me in my attachment, I should have considered it at first too great a presumption almost, to dare to think of him. At first, if you had not told me that more wonderful things had happened; that there had been matches of greater disparity (those were your very words;)—I should not have dared to give way to—I should not have thought it possible—But if you, who have been always acquainted with him—”

“Harriet!” cried Emma, collecting herself resolutely—“Let us understand each other now, without the possibility of farther mistake. Are you speaking of—Mr. Knightley?”

“To be sure I am. I never could have an idea of any body else—and so I thought you knew. When we talked about him it was as clear as possible.”

“Not quite,” returned Emma, with forced calmness, “for all that you then said, appeared to me to relate to a different person. I could almost assert that you had named Mr. Frank Churchill. I am sure the service Mr. Frank Churchill had rendered you, in protecting you from the gipsies, was spoken of.”

“Oh! Miss Woodhouse, how you do forget!”

“My dear Harriet, I perfectly remember the substance of what I said on the occasion. I told you that I did not wonder at your attachment; that considering the service he had rendered you, it was extremely natural:—and you agreed to it, expressing yourself very warmly as to your sense of that service, and mentioning even what your sensations had been in seeing him come forward to your rescue.—The impression of it is strong on my memory.”

“Oh, dear,” cried Harriet, “now I recollect what you mean; but I was thinking of something very different at the time. It was not the gipsies—it was


not Mr. Frank Churchill that I meant. No! (with some elevation) I was thinking of a much more precious circumstance—of Mr. Knightley’s coming and asking me to dance, when Mr. Elton would not stand up with me; and when there was no other partner in the room. That was the kind action; that was the noble benevolence and generosity; that was the service which made me begin to feel how superior he was to every other being upon earth.”

“Good God!” cried Emma, “this has been a most unfortunate—most deplorable mistake!—What is to be done?”

“You would not have encouraged me, then, if you had understood me. At least, however, I cannot be worse off than I should have been, if the other had been the person; and now—it is possible—.”

She paused a few moments. Emma could not speak.

“I do not wonder, Miss Woodhouse,” she resumed, “that you should feel a great difference between the two, as to me or as to anybody. You must think one five hundred million times more above me than the other. But I hope, Miss Woodhouse, that supposing—that if—strange as it may appear—. But you know they were your own words, that more wonderful things had happened, matches of greater disparity had taken place than between Mr. Frank Churchill and me; and, therefore, it seems as if such a thing even as this, may have occurred before—and if I should be so fortunate, beyond expression, as to—if Mr. Knightley should really—if he does not mind the disparity, I hope, dear Miss Woodhouse, you will not set yourself against it, and try to put difficulties in the way. But you are too good for that, I am sure.”

Harriet was standing at one of the windows. Emma turned round to look at her in consternation, and hastily said,

“Have you any idea of Mr. Knightley’s returning your affection?”