11. CHAPTER XI
Mr. Elton must now be left to himself. It was no longer in Emma's
power to superintend his happiness or quicken his measures.
The coming of her sister's family was so very near at hand,
that first in anticipation, and then in reality, it became henceforth
her prime object of interest; and during the ten days of their stay
at Hartfield it was not to be expected--she did not herself expect--
that any thing beyond occasional, fortuitous assistance could
be afforded by her to the lovers. They might advance rapidly
if they would, however; they must advance somehow or other whether
they would or no. She hardly wished to have more leisure for them.
There are people, who the more you do for them, the less they will
do for themselves.
Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley, from having been longer than usual
absent from Surry, were exciting of course rather more than the
usual interest. Till this year, every long vacation since their
marriage had been divided between Hartfield and Donwell Abbey;
but all the holidays of this autumn had been given to sea-bathing
for the children, and it was therefore many months since they had
been seen in a regular way by their Surry connexions, or seen at all
by Mr. Woodhouse, who could not be induced to get so far as London,
even for poor Isabella's sake; and who consequently was now most
nervously and apprehensively happy in forestalling this too short visit.
He thought much of the evils of the journey for her, and not a
little of the fatigues of his own horses and coachman who were to
bring some of the party the last half of the way; but his alarms
were needless; the sixteen miles being happily accomplished,
and Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley, their five children, and a competent
number of nursery-maids, all reaching Hartfield in safety.
The bustle and joy of such an arrival, the many to be talked to,
welcomed, encouraged, and variously dispersed and disposed of,
produced a noise and confusion which his nerves could not have borne
under any other cause, nor have endured much longer even for this;
but the ways of Hartfield and the feelings of her father were
so respected by Mrs. John Knightley, that in spite of maternal
solicitude for the immediate enjoyment of her little ones,
and for their having instantly all the liberty and attendance,
all the eating and drinking, and sleeping and playing,
which they could possibly wish for, without the smallest delay,
the children were never allowed to be long a disturbance to him,
either in themselves or in any restless attendance on them.