Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Emma, Volume II, Chapter 10 (Chapter 28)

This chapter is composed of Austen hiding many of her clues in plain sight. Totally brilliant.

After all the clatter and chatter of mounting the steps that closes the prior chapter, Emma and friends enter the Bates's drawing room to find Mrs Bates asleep in her chair, Frank Churchill working on fixing Mrs Bates's eyeglasses, and Jane Fairfax standing with her back to them, looking at her pianoforte.

Frank Churchill: Holy cow! I didn't expect you for at least another 10 minutes.

Jane Fairfax: *is flustered*

Frank Churchill: *chatters madly, drawing Emma's attention to himself*

Emma: *is flattered*

Jane Fairfax: *starts to play the pianoforté, still flustered*

Emma: *thinks Jane is still overwhelmed by getting the pianoforté*

Frank Churchill: *talks to Emma, so that Jane can also hear* Nice pianoforte, isn't it? It's just exactly the sort of piano that everyone in Colonel Campbell's party liked best. The person who ordered it must have paid special attention to that.

Emma: *tries to shush Frank*

Frank Churchill: NICE PIANOFORTE. I wonder if the Campbells know about it being here.

Jane Fairfax: Until I get a letter from the Campbells, I cannot say. It would be conjecture.

Frank Churchill: "Conjecture--aye, sometimes one conjectures right, and sometimes one conjectures wrong." I wish I could conjecture how soon I shall make this rivet quite firm." *finally fixes the glasses and gives them to Mrs Bates, then goes over to the pianoforte*

"If you are very kind," said he, "it will be one of the waltzes we danced last night;--let me live them over again. You did not enjoy them as I did; you appeared tired the whole time. I believe you were glad we danced no longer; but I would have given worlds--all the worlds one ever has to give--for another half-hour."

She played.

"What felicity it is to hear a tune again which has made one happy!--If I mistake not that was danced at Weymouth."

She looked up at him for a moment, coloured deeply, and played something else. He took some music from a chair near the pianoforte, and turning to Emma, said,

"Here is something quite new to me. Do you know it?--Cramer.--And here are a new set of Irish melodies. That, from such a quarter, one might expect. This was all sent with the instrument. Very thoughtful of Colonel Campbell, was not it?--He knew Miss Fairfax could have no music here. I honour that part of the attention particularly; it shews it to have been so thoroughly from the heart. Nothing hastily done; nothing incomplete. True affection only could have prompted it."

Emma wished he would be less pointed, yet could not help being amused; and when on glancing her eye towards Jane Fairfax she caught the remains of a smile, when she saw that with all the deep blush of consciousness, there had been a smile of secret delight, she had less scruple in the amusement, and much less compunction with respect to her.--This amiable, upright, perfect Jane Fairfax was apparently cherishing very reprehensible feelings.

He brought all the music to her, and they looked it over together.--Emma took the opportunity of whispering,

"You speak too plain. She must understand you."

"I hope she does. I would have her understand me. I am not in the least ashamed of my meaning."

Miss Bates: Oh! There's Mr Knightley on his horse! Yoo-hoo! Mr Knightley! Thanks for the carriage last night! Please come in - we have lots of people here!

Mr Knightley: How is your niece? I want to ask how all of you are, but especially Jane Fairfax? I hope she didn't catch a cold last night. How is Miss Fairfax?

Mrs Weston: *to Emma: wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more*

Emma: *shakes Mrs Weston off*

Mr Knightley: I'm going to Kingston. Can I bring you anything?

Miss Bates: Mrs Cole said something about needing something from Kingston.

Mr Knightley: Mrs Cole has a servant and can run her own errands. Do you need anything?

Miss Bates: Won't you come in? Miss Woodhouse and Miss Smith are here.

Mr Knightley: Well, maybe I can come in for five minutes.

Miss Bates: And Mrs Weston and Mr Churchill.

Mr Knightley: Never mind. I can't come in at all. Your room is already crowded.

Miss Bates: Wasn't that a lovely party last night? Wasn't the dancing wonderful? Didn't Miss Woodhouse and Mr Churchill dance well together?

Mr Knightley: Indeed. And since they are all listening in, it's not like I could say otherwise, so I'll go further and say that Miss Fairfax dances extremely well, too, and Mrs Weston is the best player of country dances in all of England. "Now, if your friends have any gratitude, they will say something pretty loud about you and me in return; but I cannot stay to hear it."

Readers cannot help but notice the particular care Frank takes to pay attention to Emma in this chapter, and the particular care that Mr Knightley shows for Jane's health (and his interest in paying her a compliment). Nor does it go unnoticed that Mr Knightley is willing to come in to see everyone until he learns that Frank Churchill is there - but is his refusal based on Frank's presence, or simply on his awareness that their parlor must be very crowded?

And yet there are other things afoot here - Mrs Weston is looking for evidence of Mr Knightley's interest in Jane, yet Emma insists it's not there. And why did Mr Knightley refuse to come in, then say he might, then refuse again? Is it Harriet Smith or Emma that provided the inducement to come in? And why was Jane Fairfax so flustered? And Frank certainly seemed as attentive to her as to Emma, did he not?

If you have spoilery comments to make, by all means make them, but do the first-time readers a favor and flag them as such so that they can avoid reading them!


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