I’m disappointed at only getting through chapter nine of Emma, today. I guess all the gallivanting in the torrential rain during the course of the week getting photos of flowers somewhat took its toll. I’ll definitely get cracking tomorrow, come hell or high water. Sunday is also a kind of sleepy relaxing day. No more excuses.
In chapter nine we are told that Isabella and her lawyer husband John, and the children, Henry, John and the three younger ones will be coming from Surry [Surrey] to stay with Emma and the father at Hartfield for ten days over the holidays. Papa wishes they would stay longer, but work needs must be with Isabella’s husband. Papa gets all fussed up regarding the rearing ways of the son-in-law, he thinks that the father should be more gentle with the children, just like he was with his own. Emma reminds him that the children are adored by the father and that the boisterous ways are an expression of that love. It is talked about how Mr. Knightley gets the children and throws them up in the air, however Emma reminds her fussy father that the children are enthralled at him playing with them in that fashion. Emma is looking forward to introducing Harriet to the children. She’s convinced H find them absolutely adorable. Emma had done portraits of the children, as she did, one of Harriet, and of which Mr. Elton, the young rector had specially commissioned someone to frame it in London. The painting was done to impress the young man, of whom Emma is convinced is madly in love with Harriet her young project.
Emma and Harriet start collecting riddles in a book, and they ask Mr. Elton to write one. He does, and the answer is “courtship,” which Emma takes as a positive sign.
The girls go to visit a sick family, and on their way past a bend they run into Mr. Elton. Emma breaks her shoelace and throws in in the ditch, so she can fall behind and let the others get engrossed in talking. There is so much fuss about the game called charades that Emma and young Harriet have compiled for amusement and fun. Ditties and verses in the form of Shakespearean couplets in riddle format and such-like are written down on special paper created by students at Ms. Goddard’s school. Mr. Elton left a riddle on the table and departed immediately thereafter. Emma is thrilled. She can’t wait to read it to see what he has to say about Miss Harriet. She’ll prove Mr. Knightley wrong regarding what he thinks about the young girl not being suitable for Mr. Elton. This is just the evidence she’s been waiting for in a while, to get back at him saying that the girl should be grateful to be asked for the hand in marriage by Mr. Robert Martin, a confidante and tenant farmer of his.
Background to date:
George Knightley, Emma’s brother-in-law, pays them a visit just after the wedding, and Emma tells him that she matched up her governess and Mr. Weston. Emma tells him that she next plans to match up Mr. Elton, a rector, and George suggests she stay out of it.
Austen gives us Mr. Weston’s back story – he has a son, Frank, from his first marriage to Miss Churchill, and since he was unable to care for his son after his wife’s death, Frank was raised by his mother’s relatives. Word arrives that he’s coming to visit the Weston’s soon.
Country life in Highbury is just as charming as is the regular social group of Emma, her father, Mr. Knightley, Mr. Elton, Mrs. Goddard, and Mrs. and Miss Bates get together often for parties. Mrs. Goddard, who runs a boarding school, brings one of her old students, Harriet Smith to visit one night, and Emma decides to make her a project.
Emma and Harriet begin to spend lots of time together, and Emma learns that she’s a friend of the Martins and their son Robert. Emma assumes correctly that Robert is interested in Harriet, but Emma isn’t impressed by him, which she tells Harriet. Emma tries to interest Harriet in Mr. Elton, and one night she draws a picture of Harriet, which Mr. Elton fawns over, though others point out mistakes. Mr. Elton takes the picture to London to be framed, and Emma is convinced that he’s in love with Harriet. Then Robert Martin proposes to Harriet and she shows Emma the letter. Emma tells her that it’s well-written, but convinces her that marrying him would be a mistake.
Mr. Knightley goes to visit Emma and tells her that Robert Martin will be proposing to her soon and he thinks it will be a good match. When Emma tells him he already has, and that Harriet has refused him, Mr. Knightley is upset with her and tells her that her plot to fix up Harriet and Mr. Elton won’t work.
Emma and Harriet start collecting riddles in a book, and they ask Mr. Elton to write one. He does, and the answer is “courtship,” which Emma takes as a positive sign. The girls go to visit a sick family, and on their way home, run into Mr. Elton. Emma breaks her shoelace so she can fall back and get the others talking.
Isabella and her family arrive for Christmas and when Mr. Knightley comes for dinner, Emma makes up with him. They plan to go dine with the Westons, but Harriet falls ill and Emma tries to convince Mr. Elton that he shouldn’t come either. John Knightley tells Emma that Mr. Elton likes her, but Emma denies it. She wonders at how little interest Mr. Elton has in Harriet’s illness.