7. CHAPTER VII
The very day of Mr. Elton's going to London produced a fresh occasion
for Emma's services towards her friend. Harriet had been at Hartfield,
as usual, soon after breakfast; and, after a time, had gone home
to return again to dinner: she returned, and sooner than had been
talked of, and with an agitated, hurried look, announcing something
extraordinary to have happened which she was longing to tell.
Half a minute brought it all out. She had heard, as soon as she got
back to Mrs. Goddard's, that Mr. Martin had been there an hour before,
and finding she was not at home, nor particularly expected, had left
a little parcel for her from one of his sisters, and gone away;
and on opening this parcel, she had actually found, besides the two
songs which she had lent Elizabeth to copy, a letter to herself;
and this letter was from him, from Mr. Martin, and contained a direct
proposal of marriage. "Who could have thought it? She was so surprized
she did not know what to do. Yes, quite a proposal of marriage;
and a very good letter, at least she thought so. And he wrote
as if he really loved her very much--but she did not know--and so,
she was come as fast as she could to ask Miss Woodhouse what she
should do.--" Emma was half-ashamed of her friend for seeming so
pleased and so doubtful.
"Upon my word," she cried, "the young man is determined not to lose
any thing for want of asking. He will connect himself well if he can."
"Will you read the letter?" cried Harriet. "Pray do. I'd rather
Emma was not sorry to be pressed. She read, and was surprized.
The style of the letter was much above her expectation.
There were not merely no grammatical errors, but as a composition it
would not have disgraced a gentleman; the language, though plain,
was strong and unaffected, and the sentiments it conveyed very much
to the credit of the writer. It was short, but expressed good sense,
warm attachment, liberality, propriety, even delicacy of feeling.
She paused over it, while Harriet stood anxiously watching for
her opinion, with a "Well, well," and was at last forced to add,
"Is it a good letter? or is it too short?"