13. CHAPTER XIII
There could hardly be a happier creature in the world than Mrs. John
Knightley, in this short visit to Hartfield, going about every morning
among her old acquaintance with her five children, and talking
over what she had done every evening with her father and sister.
She had nothing to wish otherwise, but that the days did not pass
so swiftly. It was a delightful visit;--perfect, in being much too short.
In general their evenings were less engaged with friends than
their mornings; but one complete dinner engagement, and out
of the house too, there was no avoiding, though at Christmas.
Mr. Weston would take no denial; they must all dine at Randalls
one day;--even Mr. Woodhouse was persuaded to think it a possible
thing in preference to a division of the party.
How they were all to be conveyed, he would have made a difficulty
if he could, but as his son and daughter's carriage and horses
were actually at Hartfield, he was not able to make more than
a simple question on that head; it hardly amounted to a doubt;
nor did it occupy Emma long to convince him that they might in one
of the carriages find room for Harriet also.
Harriet, Mr. Elton, and Mr. Knightley, their own especial set,
were the only persons invited to meet them;--the hours were to be early,
as well as the numbers few; Mr. Woodhouse's habits and inclination
being consulted in every thing.
The evening before this great event (for it was a very great event
that Mr. Woodhouse should dine out, on the 24th of December) had been
spent by Harriet at Hartfield, and she had gone home so much indisposed
with a cold, that, but for her own earnest wish of being nursed
by Mrs. Goddard, Emma could not have allowed her to leave the house.
Emma called on her the next day, and found her doom already signed
with regard to Randalls. She was very feverish and had a bad
sore throat: Mrs. Goddard was full of care and affection, Mr. Perry
was talked of, and Harriet herself was too ill and low to resist
the authority which excluded her from this delightful engagement,
though she could not speak of her loss without many tears.