1. CHAPTER I
The event had every promise of happiness for her friend. Mr. Weston
was a man of unexceptionable character, easy fortune, suitable age,
and pleasant manners; and there was some satisfaction in considering
with what self-denying, generous friendship she had always wished
and promoted the match; but it was a black morning's work for her.
The want of Miss Taylor would be felt every hour of every day.
She recalled her past kindness--the kindness, the affection of sixteen
years--how she had taught and how she had played with her from five
years old--how she had devoted all her powers to attach and amuse
her in health--and how nursed her through the various illnesses
of childhood. A large debt of gratitude was owing here; but the
intercourse of the last seven years, the equal footing and perfect
unreserve which had soon followed Isabella's marriage, on their
being left to each other, was yet a dearer, tenderer recollection.
She had been a friend and companion such as few possessed: intelligent,
well-informed, useful, gentle, knowing all the ways of the family,
interested in all its concerns, and peculiarly interested in herself,
in every pleasure, every scheme of hers--one to whom she could speak
every thought as it arose, and who had such an affection for her
as could never find fault.
How was she to bear the change?--It was true that her friend was
going only half a mile from them; but Emma was aware that great must
be the difference between a Mrs. Weston, only half a mile from them,
and a Miss Taylor in the house; and with all her advantages,
natural and domestic, she was now in great danger of suffering
from intellectual solitude. She dearly loved her father, but he
was no companion for her. He could not meet her in conversation,
rational or playful.
The evil of the actual disparity in their ages (and Mr. Woodhouse had
not married early) was much increased by his constitution and habits;
for having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activity
of mind or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years;
and though everywhere beloved for the friendliness of his heart
and his amiable temper, his talents could not have recommended him
at any time.