14. CHAPTER XIV
Mrs. Elton was first seen at church: but though devotion might
be interrupted, curiosity could not be satisfied by a bride in a pew,
and it must be left for the visits in form which were then to be paid,
to settle whether she were very pretty indeed, or only rather pretty,
or not pretty at all.
Emma had feelings, less of curiosity than of pride or propriety,
to make her resolve on not being the last to pay her respects;
and she made a point of Harriet's going with her, that the worst of
the business might be gone through as soon as possible.
She could not enter the house again, could not be in the same room
to which she had with such vain artifice retreated three months ago,
to lace up her boot, without recollecting. A thousand vexatious
thoughts would recur. Compliments, charades, and horrible blunders;
and it was not to be supposed that poor Harriet should not be
recollecting too; but she behaved very well, and was only rather
pale and silent. The visit was of course short; and there was so
much embarrassment and occupation of mind to shorten it, that Emma
would not allow herself entirely to form an opinion of the lady,
and on no account to give one, beyond the nothing-meaning terms
of being "elegantly dressed, and very pleasing."
She did not really like her. She would not be in a hurry to find fault,
but she suspected that there was no elegance;--ease, but not elegance.--
She was almost sure that for a young woman, a stranger, a bride,
there was too much ease. Her person was rather good; her face
not unpretty; but neither feature, nor air, nor voice, nor manner,
were elegant. Emma thought at least it would turn out so.
As for Mr. Elton, his manners did not appear--but no, she would
not permit a hasty or a witty word from herself about his manners.
It was an awkward ceremony at any time to be receiving wedding visits,
and a man had need be all grace to acquit himself well through it.
The woman was better off; she might have the assistance of fine clothes,
and the privilege of bashfulness, but the man had only his own
good sense to depend on; and when she considered how peculiarly
unlucky poor Mr. Elton was in being in the same room at once with
the woman he had just married, the woman he had wanted to marry,
and the woman whom he had been expected to marry, she must allow him
to have the right to look as little wise, and to be as much affectedly,
and as little really easy as could be.