Emma thought it strange that he was not more worried but she said nothing. During the journey, he was quite happy and even joked a little. He seemed to have forgotten poor Harriet and was obviously enjoying himself.

When they arrived at Randalls, Emma was surprised to find Mr Elton at her side most of the time. She heard Mr Weston telling the others something about Frank, but because Mr Elton was talking to her she could not hear everything.

Emma had an interest in Frank Churchill, although she had never met him. They were about the same age and because their two families were now joined in marriage it seemed to her that he was the man she should marry. She thought Mr and Mrs Weston had probably had the same idea, perhaps her father also.

At dinner she was sitting next to Mr Weston, and far from Mr Elton, so she had a chance to ask about Frank.

‘I should like to see two more people here tonight — your friend Miss Smith and my son,’ he said. ‘Did you know we had another letter from him this morning?

He will be with us in a fortnight. Mrs Weston doubts it, but I am sure he will come this time.’

‘If you think he will come, I shall think so too,’ said Emma. She hoped he was right because she wanted to meet Frank very much.

The evening at Randalls was a very pleasant one and, as they left for home, it started to snow.

Mr Woodhouse, Isabella and John all rode in the first carriage, and so Emma and Mr Elton were alone in the second. They had just driven through the gates and reached the road when suddenly Mr Elton jumped up from his seat to sit next to Emma and took her hand in his. She immediately moved across the carriage.

‘Mr Elton! What are you thinking of? Please stop this minute!’ cried Emma, afraid that he had drunk too much of Mr Weston’s excellent wine. But Mr Elton would not stop. He said he loved her and he would die if she refused to marry him. Again he moved next to Emma and again she moved away.

‘I cannot understand this,’ said Emma.’Surely it is Miss Smith you love, not me!’

‘Miss Smith? How can you think that?’ he asked.

‘But the painting — and the poem. Explain yourself, Mr Elton.’

‘Miss Smith means nothing to me. I thought the artist was wonderful, not the subject. And the poem was for you.’ Mr Elton tried to take Emma’s hand again. ‘Miss Smith is a pretty, pleasant girl and I wish her well, but my visits to Hartfield have been for you only.’

Emma was so surprised that she did not know what to say Mr Elton tried to take her hand again.

‘Your silence makes me think that you always understood me,’ he said.

‘Then I see we have both made a mistake. I do not wish you to have any interest in me, Mr Elton, and I do not intend to marry anyone at present.’

After that they sat silently until the carriage stopped outside Mr Elton’s house and he got out. They both said a cold ‘good night’ and the carriage drove Emma home to Hartfield, where the family were waiting for her.


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