A Second Offer
Mr Knightley was so angry that it was some time before he went to Hartfield again. When Emma saw him again she could see that he had not forgiven her and she was sorry about that.
But she thought her plan was succeeding. Every time Mr Elton met Harriet and Emma he sighed a little more and Emma was certain he really did love Harriet.
Harriet was making herself a little book of poems, and some of the people she knew had suggested their favourites for the book. One day Emma told Mr Elton about it and then she said, ‘Perhaps you could write something for Harriet’s book? You are so clever it will be easy for you,’
‘I’m sure I couldn’t do it,’ he replied, but the next day he called at Hartfield and left a paper with a short poem written on it. It was addressed to Miss -.
‘He means it for you of course,’ said Emma.
They read the poem together and saw that it was a very pretty love poem. Harriet was delighted with it.
‘Mr Elton! He really is in love with me!’ she sighed.
The poem was read to Mr Woodhouse and he said it was probably the best they had found. Then he started talking about Isabella.
‘She is coming next week, and they will all be here for Christmas.’
‘We must ask Mr and Mrs Weston to dinner while they are here, Papa. And Harriet must come as often as she can,’ said Emma. ‘You will love my nieces and nephews,’ Emma said to Harriet,’ and it will be a Christmas to remember.’
The next day, Emma had to visit a poor sick family in the village and Harriet went with her. The road to their little house passed the church and then later Mr Elton’s house and for a moment they stopped to look at it. It was the first time Harriet had seen where Mr Elton lived.
‘What a sweet house!’ said Harriet.
‘And there you and your book of poems will go one day. Then I shall often walk this way,’ replied Emma.
They continued their walk and visited the family. Emma was a very kind young lady and she took them food and clothes for the children and tried to help as much as she could.
As they started their walk back to Hartfield, they met Mr Elton just as he was coming out of his house and he asked if he could walk with them.
Emma wanted to let Harriet and Mr Elton walk together without her and so she stopped and bent down to check her boot. They walked on and seemed to be having an interesting conversation. Emma tried to keep a long way behind but soon they stopped, turned and waited for her to catch up with them. She had hoped Mr Elton might take the opportunity to tell Harriet he loved her, but he didn’t.
‘He is very careful,’ she thought. ‘He will not tell her until he is sure she loves him.’-
But although she did not succeed with that plan, she was certain they had moved a little closer to the great day of their marriage.
Isabella, John Knightley and their children arrived at Hartfield the week before Christmas. Mr Woodhouse was delighted to see them all again and the family were happy to be together. They talked about their friends in Highbury and of course they talked about Mr and Mrs Weston.
‘Do you see Mrs Weston often?’ asked Isabella.
‘Not as often as I would like, and she always goes away again,’ said Mr Woodhouse sadly.
‘But remember poor Mr Weston! She must go now that she is married, Papa,’ laughed Emma.
‘And what about the young man, Mr Weston’s son? Has he been to see his father since the wedding?’ asked John Knightley.
Everyone in Highbury knew about Mr Weston’s son, Frank, but nobody had seen him. Several times he had said he was coming but each time something had happened to stop the visit.
Frank’s aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs Churchill, had adopted him when his mother died. He was only a baby and it seemed to Mr Weston at the time that it was the best thing to do. The Churchills had no children of their own and Frank took their family name. But Mrs Churchill was very jealous and wanted to keep Frank for herself. Although Frank saw his father once a year in London, he had not yet met his new wife.
If Frank Churchill finally did come to Highbury it would be very exciting for Mr and Mrs Weston, and for the whole village. Everybody looked forward to meeting him, especially Emma.
Mr Woodhouse told Isabella,’ I have seen a letter he wrote to Mrs Weston and he seems a very pleasant young man. I am only sorry he is not here now, so that you could meet him, my dear.’
Mrs Weston invited all the family to Randalls for dinner on Christmas Eve and Harriet, Mr Knightley and Mr Elton were asked to join them.Two carriages were going from Hartfield and Mr Woodhouse arranged to meet Mr Elton at his house and take him to Randalls with them.
The day before, Harriet became ill with a cough and a bad throat and so she could not go. Emma explained to Mr Elton and he said he was very sorry that Harriet was ill. Emma thought he might be so unhappy that he would not go to Randalls without Harriet but he surprised her.
‘It is a pity our friend cannot join our little party but I am looking forward to the evening,’ he told her. ‘We must hope she will soon feel better.’