17. CHAPTER XVII
Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley were not detained long at Hartfield.
The weather soon improved enough for those to move who must move;
and Mr. Woodhouse having, as usual, tried to persuade his daughter
to stay behind with all her children, was obliged to see the whole
party set off, and return to his lamentations over the destiny
of poor Isabella;--which poor Isabella, passing her life with
those she doated on, full of their merits, blind to their faults,
and always innocently busy, might have been a model of right
The evening of the very day on which they went brought a note
from Mr. Elton to Mr. Woodhouse, a long, civil, ceremonious note,
to say, with Mr. Elton's best compliments, "that he was proposing
to leave Highbury the following morning in his way to Bath;
where, in compliance with the pressing entreaties of some friends,
he had engaged to spend a few weeks, and very much regretted
the impossibility he was under, from various circumstances of
weather and business, of taking a personal leave of Mr. Woodhouse,
of whose friendly civilities he should ever retain a grateful sense--
and had Mr. Woodhouse any commands, should be happy to attend to them."
Emma was most agreeably surprized.--Mr. Elton's absence just
at this time was the very thing to be desired. She admired
him for contriving it, though not able to give him much credit
for the manner in which it was announced. Resentment could not
have been more plainly spoken than in a civility to her father,
from which she was so pointedly excluded. She had not even a
share in his opening compliments.--Her name was not mentioned;--
and there was so striking a change in all this, and such an
ill-judged solemnity of leave-taking in his graceful acknowledgments,
as she thought, at first, could not escape her father's suspicion.
It did, however.--Her father was quite taken up with the surprize
of so sudden a journey, and his fears that Mr. Elton might never get
safely to the end of it, and saw nothing extraordinary in his language.
It was a very useful note, for it supplied them with fresh matter
for thought and conversation during the rest of their lonely evening.
Mr. Woodhouse talked over his alarms, and Emma was in spirits
to persuade them away with all her usual promptitude.