17. CHAPTER XVII
She now resolved to keep Harriet no longer in the dark. She had
reason to believe her nearly recovered from her cold, and it was
desirable that she should have as much time as possible for getting
the better of her other complaint before the gentleman's return.
She went to Mrs. Goddard's accordingly the very next day, to undergo
the necessary penance of communication; and a severe one it was.--
She had to destroy all the hopes which she had been so industriously
feeding--to appear in the ungracious character of the one preferred--
and acknowledge herself grossly mistaken and mis-judging in all her
ideas on one subject, all her observations, all her convictions,
all her prophecies for the last six weeks.
The confession completely renewed her first shame--and the sight
of Harriet's tears made her think that she should never be in charity
with herself again.
Harriet bore the intelligence very well--blaming nobody--
and in every thing testifying such an ingenuousness of disposition
and lowly opinion of herself, as must appear with particular
advantage at that moment to her friend.
Emma was in the humour to value simplicity and modesty to the utmost;
and all that was amiable, all that ought to be attaching,
seemed on Harriet's side, not her own. Harriet did not consider
herself as having any thing to complain of. The affection of such
a man as Mr. Elton would have been too great a distinction.--
She never could have deserved him--and nobody but so partial
and kind a friend as Miss Woodhouse would have thought it possible.
Her tears fell abundantly--but her grief was so truly artless,
that no dignity could have made it more respectable in Emma's eyes--
and she listened to her and tried to console her with all her heart
and understanding--really for the time convinced that Harriet was
the superior creature of the two--and that to resemble her would
be more for her own welfare and happiness than all that genius or
intelligence could do.