‘Will you be so kind,’ she said,’ when they ask about me, to say I have gone home? My aunt does not realise how long we have been here and I think I should go back to see my grandmother now.’

It was a long walk to Highbury and Emma wanted to order her carriage, but Jane did not want this. ‘I would like to walk,’ she said as she left.

Not long after, Frank arrived. His aunt had been ill again, he said. He was quite annoyed because he had not been at the party and Jane had already gone home.

The Eltons’ horse was better and they had already decided to make their trip to Box Hill the next day.

‘You must come with us,’ Emma said to Frank, who was still a little angry. At first he said he did not want to ride from Richmond again the next day, but then changed his mind and said to her, ‘If you wish me to join the party, I will.’

It was a wonderful sunny day for the trip to Box Hill and it should have been a happy party, but it was not. They separated too much into groups — the Eltons walked together, Mr Knightley went with Miss Bates and Jane, and Frank looked after Emma and Harriet. Mr Weston tried all day to make them come together but he could not.

Emma was bored. She had never seen Frank Churchill so silent and stupid. He said very little and did not seem to listen to anything she said, and Harriet was quiet because he was quiet.

When they all sat down together for their picnic lunch it was better. Frank became much happier and more amusing, and Emma thought he was trying very hard to win her heart. They talked and laughed together, although the rest of the group did not join in.

‘We are the only people speaking,’ she whispered to him. ‘It is silly for us to entertain seven silent people.’

‘What can we do to make them talk?’ whispered Frank. Then he had an idea.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, I am ordered by Miss Woodhouse to say that you must each say something to entertain her. You can say one very clever thing, two quite clever things or three very boring things, and she promises to laugh at them all!’

‘Oh, well,’ said Miss Bates,’ then I need not worry. I shall be sure to say three very boring things as soon as I open my mouth!’

Emma could not stop herself. ‘But there may be a difficulty — you can only say three things, no more.’

Miss Bates did not immediately understand, but when she did, she looked very hurt and embarrassed.The others were all silent.

‘Ah, yes, I see what she means. I will try not to say more than three,’ she said quietly.

Mr and Mrs Elton stood up and said they did not like games like that and they were going for a walk, and soon Mr Knightley, Jane and her aunt followed them. Frank became louder and more annoying until he began to give Emma a headache. When the servants came to say the carriages were ready she was quite pleased.

As Emma was waiting for her carriage, Mr Knightley joined her. He looked around to see if they were alone, then said, ‘Emma, I must speak to you. How could you be so cruel to Miss Bates?’

Emma remembered and was sorry but tried to laugh about it.

‘It was not so bad and she probably did not understand me,’ she said.

‘She certainly did. You were very rude to her and you have hurt her.’

‘Miss Bates is a very good woman, but you know that she is also rather silly.’

‘She is not your equal, Emma. She is not rich and clever like you and I was ashamed of you for speaking to her like that. And it was worse because you said it in front of other people. Badly done, Emma. Very badly done.’

Mr Knightley walked away to his horse and Emma climbed into her carriage. She felt angry with herself and ashamed. She thought she must say something to Mr Knightley and looked back, but he had already gone.

The journey home to Hartfield did not make her feel better. Harriet was tired and silent and as Emma remembered what she had said to Miss Bates, tears ran down her face.


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