14. CHAPTER XIV
Emma's project of forgetting Mr. Elton for a while made her rather
sorry to find, when they had all taken their places, that he was
close to her. The difficulty was great of driving his strange
insensibility towards Harriet, from her mind, while he not only sat
at her elbow, but was continually obtruding his happy countenance
on her notice, and solicitously addressing her upon every occasion.
Instead of forgetting him, his behaviour was such that she could
not avoid the internal suggestion of "Can it really be as my brother
imagined? can it be possible for this man to be beginning to transfer
his affections from Harriet to me?--Absurd and insufferable!"--
Yet he would be so anxious for her being perfectly warm, would be
so interested about her father, and so delighted with Mrs. Weston;
and at last would begin admiring her drawings with so much zeal
and so little knowledge as seemed terribly like a would-be lover,
and made it some effort with her to preserve her good manners.
For her own sake she could not be rude; and for Harriet's, in the hope
that all would yet turn out right, she was even positively civil;
but it was an effort; especially as something was going on amongst
the others, in the most overpowering period of Mr. Elton's nonsense,
which she particularly wished to listen to. She heard enough
to know that Mr. Weston was giving some information about his son;
she heard the words "my son," and "Frank," and "my son,"
repeated several times over; and, from a few other half-syllables
very much suspected that he was announcing an early visit from
his son; but before she could quiet Mr. Elton, the subject was
so completely past that any reviving question from her would have
Now, it so happened that in spite of Emma's resolution of never marrying,
there was something in the name, in the idea of Mr. Frank Churchill,
which always interested her. She had frequently thought--especially since
his father's marriage with Miss Taylor--that if she were to marry,
he was the very person to suit her in age, character and condition.
He seemed by this connexion between the families, quite to belong to her.
She could not but suppose it to be a match that every body who knew
them must think of. That Mr. and Mrs. Weston did think of it, she was
very strongly persuaded; and though not meaning to be induced by him,
or by any body else, to give up a situation which she believed more
replete with good than any she could change it for, she had a great
curiosity to see him, a decided intention of finding him pleasant,
of being liked by him to a certain degree, and a sort of pleasure
in the idea of their being coupled in their friends' imaginations.