10. CHAPTER X
Though now the middle of December, there had yet been no weather
to prevent the young ladies from tolerably regular exercise;
and on the morrow, Emma had a charitable visit to pay to a poor
sick family, who lived a little way out of Highbury.
Their road to this detached cottage was down Vicarage Lane, a lane
leading at right angles from the broad, though irregular, main street
of the place; and, as may be inferred, containing the blessed abode
of Mr. Elton. A few inferior dwellings were first to be passed,
and then, about a quarter of a mile down the lane rose the Vicarage,
an old and not very good house, almost as close to the road as it
could be. It had no advantage of situation; but had been very much
smartened up by the present proprietor; and, such as it was,
there could be no possibility of the two friends passing it without
a slackened pace and observing eyes.--Emma's remark was--
"There it is. There go you and your riddle-book one of these days."--
"Oh, what a sweet house!--How very beautiful!--There are the yellow
curtains that Miss Nash admires so much."
"I do not often walk this way now," said Emma, as they proceeded,
"but then there will be an inducement, and I shall gradually get
intimately acquainted with all the hedges, gates, pools and pollards
of this part of Highbury."
Harriet, she found, had never in her life been within side the Vicarage,
and her curiosity to see it was so extreme, that, considering exteriors
and probabilities, Emma could only class it, as a proof of love,
with Mr. Elton's seeing ready wit in her.
"I wish we could contrive it," said she; "but I cannot think
of any tolerable pretence for going in;--no servant that I want
to inquire about of his housekeeper--no message from my father."
She pondered, but could think of nothing. After a mutual silence
of some minutes, Harriet thus began again--