18. CHAPTER XVIII
Mr. Frank Churchill did not come. When the time proposed
drew near, Mrs. Weston's fears were justified in the arrival
of a letter of excuse. For the present, he could not be spared,
to his "very great mortification and regret; but still he looked
forward with the hope of coming to Randalls at no distant period."
Mrs. Weston was exceedingly disappointed--much more disappointed,
in fact, than her husband, though her dependence on seeing the
young man had been so much more sober: but a sanguine temper,
though for ever expecting more good than occurs, does not
always pay for its hopes by any proportionate depression.
It soon flies over the present failure, and begins to hope again.
For half an hour Mr. Weston was surprized and sorry; but then he
began to perceive that Frank's coming two or three months later
would be a much better plan; better time of year; better weather;
and that he would be able, without any doubt, to stay considerably
longer with them than if he had come sooner.
These feelings rapidly restored his comfort, while Mrs. Weston,
of a more apprehensive disposition, foresaw nothing but a repetition
of excuses and delays; and after all her concern for what her husband
was to suffer, suffered a great deal more herself.
Emma was not at this time in a state of spirits to care really
about Mr. Frank Churchill's not coming, except as a disappointment
at Randalls. The acquaintance at present had no charm for her.
She wanted, rather, to be quiet, and out of temptation; but still, as it
was desirable that she should appear, in general, like her usual self,
she took care to express as much interest in the circumstance,
and enter as warmly into Mr. and Mrs. Weston's disappointment,
as might naturally belong to their friendship.
She was the first to announce it to Mr. Knightley; and exclaimed
quite as much as was necessary, (or, being acting a part, perhaps
rather more,) at the conduct of the Churchills, in keeping him away.
She then proceeded to say a good deal more than she felt, of the
advantage of such an addition to their confined society in Surry;
the pleasure of looking at somebody new; the gala-day to Highbury entire,
which the sight of him would have made; and ending with reflections
on the Churchills again, found herself directly involved in a
disagreement with Mr. Knightley; and, to her great amusement,
perceived that she was taking the other side of the question from her
real opinion, and making use of Mrs. Weston's arguments against herself.