9. CHAPTER IX
"Very likely.--I think they are, without exception, the most vulgar
girls in Highbury."
Harriet had business at Ford's.--Emma thought it most prudent to go
with her. Another accidental meeting with the Martins was possible,
and in her present state, would be dangerous.
Harriet, tempted by every thing and swayed by half a word, was always
very long at a purchase; and while she was still hanging over muslins
and changing her mind, Emma went to the door for amusement.--Much could
not be hoped from the traffic of even the busiest part of Highbury;--
Mr. Perry walking hastily by, Mr. William Cox letting himself in at
the office-door, Mr. Cole's carriage-horses returning from exercise,
or a stray letter-boy on an obstinate mule, were the liveliest
objects she could presume to expect; and when her eyes fell only on
the butcher with his tray, a tidy old woman travelling homewards from
shop with her full basket, two curs quarrelling over a dirty bone,
and a string of dawdling children round the baker's little bow-window
eyeing the gingerbread, she knew she had no reason to complain,
and was amused enough; quite enough still to stand at the door.
A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see
nothing that does not answer.
She looked down the Randalls road. The scene enlarged;
two persons appeared; Mrs. Weston and her son-in-law; they were
walking into Highbury;--to Hartfield of course. They were stopping,
however, in the first place at Mrs. Bates's; whose house was
a little nearer Randalls than Ford's; and had all but knocked,
when Emma caught their eye.--Immediately they crossed the road
and came forward to her; and the agreeableness of yesterday's
engagement seemed to give fresh pleasure to the present meeting.
Mrs. Weston informed her that she was going to call on the Bateses,
in order to hear the new instrument.
"For my companion tells me," said she, "that I absolutely promised
Miss Bates last night, that I would come this morning. I was
not aware of it myself. I did not know that I had fixed a day,
but as he says I did, I am going now."