So sorry for the delay with this newest chapter, folks! I was sick for nearly two weeks-- lovely way to welcome in the new year-- and blogging took a backseat. I'm back in the saddle again, though, and hopefully Emma will return to regular appearances as well.
"I do not know what your PO may be, Mrs. Weston," said Mr. Knightley, as the two friends met over pumpkin spice lattes, "of this great closeness between Emma and Harriet Smith, but I think it a bad thing. They are beginning to call one another besties."
"A bad thing! Do you really think it a bad thing? Why so? Beside the besties part, of course; I know you have a ridiculously old-fashioned objection to such colloquialisms."
"I think they will neither of them do the other-- or the other’s vocabulary-- any good."
"You surprise me! Emma must be an excellent influence on Harriet: and by supplying her with a new object of interest, Harriet may be said to do the same for Emma. I have been seeing their intimacy with the greatest pleasure. How very differently we feel! Not think they will do each other any good! This will certainly be the beginning of one of our debates about Emma, Mr. Knightley."
"Perhaps you think I am come on purpose to debate with you, knowing how long it has been since my forensics classes in college. Besides, Mr. Weston is out, and you must fight your own battle."
"Jack would undoubtedly support me, if he were here, for he thinks exactly as I do on the subject. We were speaking of it only yesterday, and agreeing how fortunate it was for Emma, that there should be such a girl at church for her to associate with. You know how few young single people are even in the church, much less ones with whom Emma can hold an intelligent conversation. Mr. Knightley, I shall not allow you to be a fair judge in this case. You are so much used to living alone, that you do not know the value of a companion besides your laptop screen; and perhaps no man can be a good judge of the comfort a woman feels in the society of one of her own sex, after being used to it all her life. I can imagine your objection to Harriet Smith. She is not the superior young woman which Emma's friend ought to be. But on the other hand as Emma wants to see her better informed, it will be an inducement to her to improve her own mind by extensive reading, as Mr. Darcy would say-- and if Emma wishes to snare herself a Mr. Darcy, she had better get going.”
"Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old. I have seen a great many of her reading lists at various times -- and very good lists they were -- very well chosen, and very neatly arranged -- sometimes alphabetically, and sometimes by some other rule. She even made herself a Goodreads account when she was only seventeen -- I remember thinking it did her judgment so much credit, that I actually sent her a friend request; but if her homepage does not lie, she has been on page forty-two of Anne’s House of Dreams since 2009. I have done with expecting any course of steady reading from Emma. She will never submit to any thing requiring industry and patience, and a subjection of the imagination to the understanding. Where Anne Taylor failed to stimulate, I may safely affirm that Harriet Smith will do nothing. You never could persuade her to read half so much as you wished. You know you could not."
"I dare say," replied Mrs. Weston, smiling, "that I thought so then; -- but since we have parted, I can never remember Emma's omitting to do any thing I wished."
"There is hardly any desiring to refresh such a memory as that" -- said Mr. Knightley, feelingly; and for a moment or two he had done. "But I", he soon added, "who have had no such charm thrown over my senses, must still see, hear, and remember. Emma is spoiled by being the cleverest of her family. At ten years old, she had the misfortune of being able to answer questions which puzzled her sister at seventeen. She was always quick and assured: Isabella slow and diffident. And ever since she was twelve and Isabella was married, Emma has been the sole homemaker in her father’s house. In her mother she lost the only person able to cope with her. She inherits her mother's talents, but also her flair for the dramatic."
"I should have been sorry, Mr. Knightley, to have had to come to you for references if Mr. Woodhouse had ever let me go. If I’d wanted another job, I do not think you would have spoken a good word for me to anybody. I am sure you always thought me unfit for the position I held."
"Yes," said he, smiling. "You are better placed here; very fit for a wife, but not at all for a tutor. But you were preparing yourself to be an excellent wife and homemaker all the time you were with the Woodhouses. You might not give Emma such a complete education as your powers would seem to promise; but you were receiving a very good education from her, on the very material matrimonial point of being submissive and giving in; and if Jack Weston had asked me for advice about woman to court, I should certainly have named Anne Taylor."
"Thank you. There will be very little merit in making a good wife to such a good man as Jack Weston."
"Well, to tell you the truth, I am afraid your servant’s heart is being thrown away on such a pleasant man as Jack. We will not despair, however. He may grow irritable from the excess of comfort, or his son may annoy him."
"I hope not that. It is not likely. No, Mr. Knightley, do not foretell irritation from that quarter."
"Not I, indeed. I only name possibilities. I do not pretend to Emma's genius for intuiting and guessing. I hope, with all my heart, the young man may be a Weston in merit, and a Churchill in income. But Harriet Smith -- I have not finished about Harriet Smith. I think her the very worst sort of companion that Emma could possibly have. She knows nothing herself, and looks upon Emma as knowing everything. She is a yes-woman in all her ways; and so much the worse, because it is all unintentional. Her ignorance is hourly flattery. How can Emma imagine she has any thing to learn herself, while Harriet is presenting such a delightful inferiority? And as for Harriet, I will venture to say that she cannot gain by the acquaintance. “Hanging out” with Emma, as Emma puts it, will only make all her other friends pale in comparison with Emma’s far better company. She will grow just snobby enough to be uncomfortable with those among whom she has been educated and brought up. Emma’s way of looking at the world is to say that if a girl can name all the Duggars, run a household with some semblance of efficiency and has a rudimentary knowledge of why Marxism is wrong, she is perfectly prepared to take on the world.”
"I either depend more upon Emma's good sense than you do, or am more anxious for her to have a friend; for I cannot complain of the acquaintance. How sweet and happy she looked last night!"
"Oh! you would rather talk of her appearance than her mind, would you? Very well; I shall not attempt to deny Emma's being attractive."
"Attractive! say gorgeous, rather. Can you imagine any thing nearer perfect beauty than Emma altogether? Why, she would put Job’s daughters to shame."
"I do not know what I could imagine, but I confess that I have seldom seen a countenance more pleasing to me than hers. But I am a partial old friend."
"It is the amount of raw food in her diet that gives her skin such a lovely glow, I am sure; Emma always gives me the idea of being the complete picture of health. She is loveliness itself, Mr. Knightley, is not she?"
"I have not a fault to find with her appearance," he replied. “I think her all you describe. I love to look at her; and I will add this praise, that I do not think her personally vain. Considering how many selfies she takes, she really appears to consider them of much import; she certainly never tags them ‘ugly’ or ‘ew’ in a bid for attention on Facebook. No, her vanity lies another way. Anne, I am not to be talked out of my dislike of her friendship with Harriet Smith, or my dread of its doing them both harm."
"And I, Mr. Knightley, am equally firm in my confidence of its not doing them any harm. With all dear Emma's little faults, she is still a sweetheart. Where shall we see a better daughter, or a kinder sister, or a truer friend? No, no; she has qualities which may be trusted; she will never lead any one really wrong; she will make no lasting blunder; where Emma errs once, she is in the right a hundred times. We will just have to agree to disagree."
"Very well; I will not harp on this any more. Emma shall be an angel, and I will keep my snark to myself till John and Isabella come at Christmas. John regards Emma with a reasonable and therefore not a blind affection, and Isabella always thinks as he does; except when he is not quite paranoid enough about the children getting enough vitamin K in their diets. I am sure of having their opinions with me."
"I know that you all love her really too well to be overly harsh; but excuse me, Mr. Knightley, if I take the liberty (I consider myself, you know, as having somewhat of the privilege of speech that Emma's mother might have had) the liberty of hinting that I do not think any possible good can arise from Harriet Smith's friendship being made a matter of much discussion among you. Isabella freaks out very easily, and should not be made to worry about her sister’s associations."
"Don’t worry about it," Mr. Knightley assured her, "I will not raise a stink about this. I will keep my comments to myself and my MySpace page, which no one visits anyway. I have a very sincere interest in Emma. Isabella does not seem more my sister than Emma; has never excited a greater interest; perhaps hardly so great. There is an anxiety, a curiosity in what one feels for Emma. I wonder what will become of her!"
"So do I," said Mrs. Weston gently; "very much."
"She always declares she will never marry, which, of course, means just nothing at all-- it is just a cover-up so she will not seem too eager to find a spouse.” (This said in sarcasm.) “But I have no idea that she has yet ever seen a man she was really attracted to. It would not be a bad thing for her to be very much in love with the right kind of guy. I should like to see Emma in love, and in some doubt of its being requited; it would do her good. But there is nobody hereabouts to win her heart; and she goes so seldom from home."
"There does, indeed, seem as little to tempt her to break her resolution, at present," said Mrs. Weston, "as can well be; and while she is so happy at home, I cannot wish her to be forming any attachment which would be creating such difficulties, on poor Mr. Woodhouse's account. I do not recommend matrimony at present to Emma, though I mean no slight to the God-ordained state, I assure you."
Part of her meaning was to conceal some favourite thoughts of her own and Mr. Weston's on the subject, as much as possible. There were wishes in their household respecting Emma's destiny, but it was not desirable to have them suspected, lest they be accused of being bitten by the newlywed Cupid bug; and the quiet transition which Mr. Knightley soon afterwards made to "What does Jack think of the new iPhone; does he agree with me that the old one does very well, and new gadgets are now unnecessary?" convinced her that he had nothing more to say or surmise about the Westons’ possible matchmaking schemes.