‘Good or bad?’ she asked.

I think it is good, but I am afraid you will not agree with me. It is about Harriet Smith.’

Emma could not think what had happened to her.

‘She is going to marry Robert Martin,’ he said.

‘Good God, that is impossible so soon … how do you know this?’

‘Robert Martin told me himself, half an hour ago. You do not like the idea, I can see. But in time you will grow to like him as much as I do,’ he said.

‘I am not unhappy at all, just very surprised. Tell me the whole story. How did it happen?’ asked Emma.

Mr Knightley told her he had sent Robert to London with a message for John, and at his house he met Harriet again.

‘The family were going out together that evening and they asked Robert to join them. During the evening he told Harriet he still loved her and she agreed to marry him,’ he said.

‘I hope they will be very happy together,’ said Emma, with a smile.

‘Have you changed your mind about him?’

‘I think I have. I hope so, because I was a fool before.’

‘I have also changed my mind about her,’ said Mr Knightley. ‘I used to think she was a silly girl, but the more I talked to her the more I saw that she is kind and sensible. I sometimes thought you must wonder why I had suddenly started to spend time talking to Harriet,’ he continued, ‘but I wanted to get to know her and understand why you liked her so much. They will make a good match.’

Emma agreed and was very glad that her friend was now as happy as she was.

That afternoon, Emma and her father drove to Randalls. Mrs Weston was alone in the drawing room when they arrived but they had only just sat down when they saw a group of people in the garden.

‘Frank arrived here this morning and he has just come back in the carriage with Miss Fairfax, her aunt and her grandmother. They are coming in now,’ Mrs Weston said.

The little group came into the drawing room with Mr Weston, and Emma was very pleased to see Frank and Jane again. While the rest of the party talked together, Frank said to Emma, ‘I am surprised you did not suspect us. Once, I nearly told you but I changed my mind. I hope you can forgive me for the way I behaved to you. I know I was wrong and I only did it because I could see you had no thoughts of marriage.’

‘There is nothing to forgive,’ she said. ‘I also behaved badly.’ ‘I am delighted to see you again,’ he said,’ and also to hear that you and Mr Knightley are engaged. You will be very happy, I am sure of it.’

The next day, Harriet arrived back in Highbury and called on Emma immediately. She told her she felt a little foolish now when she thought of Mr Knightley, and Emma was pleased to see that she loved Mr Martin very much.

Very soon, Robert Martin was invited to Hartfield and Emma saw that Mr Knightley had been right about him. He was polite and kind and she had no doubt that Harriet was always going to be happy in his home surrounded by people who loved her.

Before the end of September, Harriet and Robert Martin were married in Highbury church by Mr Elton — the last of the three couples to get engaged and the first to be married.

Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill had planned their wedding for November and Emma and Mr Knightley thought October was a good time for theirs. Isabella and John were going to be staying at Hartfield at that time and they could look after Mr Woodhouse while the couple went away to the sea for a fortnight.

The only problem was making Emma’s father agree with them that October was a good time for the wedding. Mr Woodhouse thought it was too soon and suggested they wait a little longer but something happened to change his mind.

Mrs Weston’s chickens were all stolen from the chicken house one night and the same thing happened to other people in Highbury. Mr Woodhouse was very worried about this. He said he would be nervous in his house after John and Isabella had gone back to London if there was no other man at Hartfield to look after him. John had to return to London by the end of the first week in November so it was finally agreed that the wedding must be arranged for October.

Emma and Mr Knightley’s wedding was a simple one. Mrs Elton had not been invited and so her husband described it to her. She thought it sounded very plain and was nothing compared to her own wedding.

But the small group of true friends who were invited were delighted by it, and Emma and Mr Knightley were perfectly and completely happy.


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