17. CHAPTER XVII
It was rather too late in the day to set about being simple-minded
and ignorant; but she left her with every previous resolution
confirmed of being humble and discreet, and repressing imagination
all the rest of her life. Her second duty now, inferior only to her
father's claims, was to promote Harriet's comfort, and endeavour
to prove her own affection in some better method than by match-making.
She got her to Hartfield, and shewed her the most unvarying kindness,
striving to occupy and amuse her, and by books and conversation,
to drive Mr. Elton from her thoughts.
Time, she knew, must be allowed for this being thoroughly done; and she
could suppose herself but an indifferent judge of such matters in general,
and very inadequate to sympathise in an attachment to Mr. Elton
in particular; but it seemed to her reasonable that at Harriet's age,
and with the entire extinction of all hope, such a progress might be
made towards a state of composure by the time of Mr. Elton's return,
as to allow them all to meet again in the common routine of acquaintance,
without any danger of betraying sentiments or increasing them.
Harriet did think him all perfection, and maintained the non-existence
of any body equal to him in person or goodness--and did, in truth,
prove herself more resolutely in love than Emma had foreseen;
but yet it appeared to her so natural, so inevitable to strive
against an inclination of that sort unrequited, that she could not
comprehend its continuing very long in equal force.
If Mr. Elton, on his return, made his own indifference as evident
and indubitable as she could not doubt he would anxiously do,
she could not imagine Harriet's persisting to place her happiness
in the sight or the recollection of him.
Their being fixed, so absolutely fixed, in the same place, was bad
for each, for all three. Not one of them had the power of removal,
or of effecting any material change of society. They must encounter
each other, and make the best of it.