3. CHAPTER III
Mr. Woodhouse was fond of society in his own way. He liked very much
to have his friends come and see him; and from various united causes,
from his long residence at Hartfield, and his good nature,
from his fortune, his house, and his daughter, he could command the
visits of his own little circle, in a great measure, as he liked.
He had not much intercourse with any families beyond that circle;
his horror of late hours, and large dinner-parties, made him unfit
for any acquaintance but such as would visit him on his own terms.
Fortunately for him, Highbury, including Randalls in the same parish,
and Donwell Abbey in the parish adjoining, the seat of Mr. Knightley,
comprehended many such. Not unfrequently, through Emma's persuasion,
he had some of the chosen and the best to dine with him: but evening
parties were what he preferred; and, unless he fancied himself at any
time unequal to company, there was scarcely an evening in the week
in which Emma could not make up a card-table for him.
Real, long-standing regard brought the Westons and Mr. Knightley;
and by Mr. Elton, a young man living alone without liking it,
the privilege of exchanging any vacant evening of his own blank solitude
for the elegancies and society of Mr. Woodhouse's drawing-room,
and the smiles of his lovely daughter, was in no danger of being
After these came a second set; among the most come-at-able
of whom were Mrs. and Miss Bates, and Mrs. Goddard, three ladies
almost always at the service of an invitation from Hartfield,
and who were fetched and carried home so often, that Mr. Woodhouse
thought it no hardship for either James or the horses. Had it
taken place only once a year, it would have been a grievance.