8. CHAPTER VIII
The wretchedness of a scheme to Box Hill was in Emma's thoughts all
the evening. How it might be considered by the rest of the party,
she could not tell. They, in their different homes, and their different
ways, might be looking back on it with pleasure; but in her view it
was a morning more completely misspent, more totally bare of rational
satisfaction at the time, and more to be abhorred in recollection,
than any she had ever passed. A whole evening of back-gammon with
her father, was felicity to it. There, indeed, lay real pleasure,
for there she was giving up the sweetest hours of the twenty-four
to his comfort; and feeling that, unmerited as might be the degree
of his fond affection and confiding esteem, she could not, in her
general conduct, be open to any severe reproach. As a daughter,
she hoped she was not without a heart. She hoped no one could
have said to her, "How could you be so unfeeling to your father?--
I must, I will tell you truths while I can." Miss Bates should
never again--no, never! If attention, in future, could do away
the past, she might hope to be forgiven. She had been often remiss,
her conscience told her so; remiss, perhaps, more in thought
than fact; scornful, ungracious. But it should be so no more.
In the warmth of true contrition, she would call upon her the
very next morning, and it should be the beginning, on her side,
of a regular, equal, kindly intercourse.
She was just as determined when the morrow came, and went early,
that nothing might prevent her. It was not unlikely, she thought,
that she might see Mr. Knightley in her way; or, perhaps, he might
come in while she were paying her visit. She had no objection.
She would not be ashamed of the appearance of the penitence, so justly
and truly hers. Her eyes were towards Donwell as she walked, but she
saw him not.
"The ladies were all at home." She had never rejoiced at the sound
before, nor ever before entered the passage, nor walked up the stairs,
with any wish of giving pleasure, but in conferring obligation,
or of deriving it, except in subsequent ridicule.