12. CHAPTER XII
"Oh! Miss Woodhouse, I hope nothing may happen to prevent the ball.
What a disappointment it would be! I do look forward to it, I own,
with very great pleasure."
It was not to oblige Jane Fairfax therefore that he would have
preferred the society of William Larkins. No!--she was more and more
convinced that Mrs. Weston was quite mistaken in that surmise.
There was a great deal of friendly and of compassionate attachment
on his side--but no love.
Alas! there was soon no leisure for quarrelling with Mr. Knightley.
Two days of joyful security were immediately followed by the
over-throw of every thing. A letter arrived from Mr. Churchill
to urge his nephew's instant return. Mrs. Churchill was unwell--
far too unwell to do without him; she had been in a very suffering
state (so said her husband) when writing to her nephew two days before,
though from her usual unwillingness to give pain, and constant
habit of never thinking of herself, she had not mentioned it;
but now she was too ill to trifle, and must entreat him to set off
for Enscombe without delay.
The substance of this letter was forwarded to Emma, in a note
from Mrs. Weston, instantly. As to his going, it was inevitable.
He must be gone within a few hours, though without feeling any real
alarm for his aunt, to lessen his repugnance. He knew her illnesses;
they never occurred but for her own convenience.
Mrs. Weston added, "that he could only allow himself time to
hurry to Highbury, after breakfast, and take leave of the few
friends there whom he could suppose to feel any interest in him;
and that he might be expected at Hartfield very soon."
This wretched note was the finale of Emma's breakfast. When once
it had been read, there was no doing any thing, but lament
and exclaim. The loss of the ball--the loss of the young man--
and all that the young man might be feeling!--It was too wretched!--
Such a delightful evening as it would have been!--Every body so happy!
and she and her partner the happiest!--"I said it would be so,"
was the only consolation.