in,” she said, “was that of making her unreasonable. The consciousness of having done amiss, had exposed her to a thousand inquietudes, and made her captious and irritable to a degree that must have been—that had been—hard for him to bear. ‘I did not make allowances,’ said she, ‘which I ought to have done, for his temper and spirits—his delightful spirits, and that gaiety, that playfulness of disposition, which, under any circumstances, would, I am sure, have been as constantly bewitching to me, as they were at first.’ She then began to speak of you, and of the great kindness you had shown her during her illness; and with a blush which showed me how it was all connected, desired me, whenever I had an opportunity, to thank you—I could not thank you too much—for every wish and every endeavor to do her good. She was sensible that you had never received any proper acknowledgement from herself.”

“If I did not know her to be happy now,” said Emma, seriously, “which, in spite of every little drawback from her scrupulous conscience, she must be, I could not bear these thanks;--for, oh! Mrs. Weston, if there were an account drawn up of the evil and the good I have done Miss Fairfax!—Well, (checking herself, and trying to be more lively,) this is all to be forgotten. You are very kind to bring me these interesting particulars. They show her to the greatest advantages. I am sure she is very good—I hope she will be very happy. It is fit that the fortunate should be on his side, for I think the merit will be all on her’s.”

Such a conclusion could not pass unanswered by Mrs. Weston. She thought well of Frank in almost every respect; and, what was more, she loved him very much, and her defence was, therefore, earnest. She talked with a great deal of reason, and at least equal affection—but she had too much urge for Emma’s attention; it was soon gone to Brunswick Square or to Donwell; she forgot to attempt to


listen; and when Mrs. Weston ended with, “We have not yet had the letter we are so anxious for, you know, but I hope it will soon come,” she was obliged to pause before she answered, and at last obliged to answer at random, before she could at all recollect what letter it was which they were so anxious for.

“Are you well, my Emma?” was Mrs. Weston’s parting question.

“Oh! perfectly. I am always well, you know. Be sure to give me intelligence of the letter as soon as possible.”

Mrs. Weston’s communications furnished Emma with more food for unpleasant reflection, by increasing her esteem and compassion, and her sense of past injustice towards Miss Fairfax. She bitterly regretted not having sought a closer acquaintance with her, and blushed for the envious feelings which had certainly been, in some measure, the cause. Had she followed Mr. Knightley’s known wishes, in paying attention to Miss Fairfax, which was every way her due; had she tried to know her better; had she done her part towards intimacy; had she endeavoured to find a friend there instead of in Harriet Smith; she must, in all probability, have been spared from every pain which pressed on her now—Birth, abilities, and education, had been equally marking one as an associate for her, to be received with gratitude; and the other—what was she?—Supposing even that they had never been admitted into Miss Fairfax’s confidence on this important matter—which was most probable—still, in knowing her as she ought, and as she might, she must have been preserved from the abominable suspicions of an improper attachment to Mr. Dixon, which she had not only so foolishly fashioned and harboured herself, but had so unpardonably imparted; an idea which she greatly feared had been made a subject of material distress