accepted Robert Martin. You cannot mean that he has even proposed to her again-yet. You only mean, that he intends it.”

“I mean, that he has done it” answered Mr. Knightley, with smiling but determined decision, “and been accepted.”

“Good God!” she cried.—“Well!”—Then having recourse to her work-basket, in excuse for leaning down her face, and concealing all the exquisite feelings of delight and entertainment which she knew she must be expressing, she added, “Well, now tell me every thing; make this intelligible to me. How, where, when?—let me know it all. I never was more surprised – but it does not make me unhappy, I assure you.—How—how has it been possible?”

“It is a very simple story. He went to town on business three days ago, and I got him to take charge of some papers which I was wanting to send to John, at his chambers, and was asked by him to join their party the same evening to Astley’s. The party was to be our brother and sister, Henry, John—and Miss Smith. My friend Robert could not resist. They called for him in their way; were all extremely amused; and my brother asked him to dine with them the next day—which he did—and in the course of the visit (as I understand) he found an opportunity of speaking to Harriet; and certainly did not speak in vain.—She made him, by her acceptance, as happy even as he is deserving. He came down by yesterday’s coach, and was with me this morning immediately after breakfast, to report his proceedings, first on my own affairs, and then on his own. This is all that I can relate of the how, where, and when. Your friend Harriet will make a much longer history when you see her.—She will give you all the minute particulars, which only woman’s


language can make interesting.—In our communications we deal only in the great.—However, I must say that Robert Martin’s heart seemed for him, and to me, very overflowing; and that he did mention, without its being much to the purpose, that one quitting their box at Astley’s, my brother took charge of Mrs. John Knightley and little John, and he followed with Miss Smith and Henry; and that at one time they were in such a crowd, as to make Miss Smith rather uneasy.”

He stopped. – Emma dared not attempt any immediate reply. To speak, she was sure would be to betray a most unreasonable degree of happiness. She must wait a moment, or he would think her mad. Her silence disturbed him; and after observing her a little while, he added,

“Emma, my love, you said that this circumstance would not now make you unhappy; but I am afraid it gives you more pain than you expected. His situation is an evil—but you must consider it as what satisfies your friend; and I will answer for your thinking better and better of him as you know him more. His good sense and good principles would delight you.—As far as the man is concerned, you could not wish your friend in better hands. His rank in society I would altar if I could; which is saying a great deal I assure you, Emma. – You laugh at me about William Larkins; but I could quite as ill spare Robert Martin.”

He wanted her to look up and smile; and having now brought herself not to smile too broadly—she did—cheerfully answering,

“You need not be at any pains to reconcile me to the match. I think Harriet is doing extremely well. Her connexions may be worse than his. In respectability of character, there can be no doubt that they are. I have been silent from surprise merely, excessive surprise. You cannot imagine how suddenly it has come on me! how peculiarly unprepared