By Lowry Lois
By Lowry Lois
Lois Lowry was born in Hawaii in 1937. Lowry lived in many different countries as a child because her father was an Army officer but kept coming back to the United States. She attended Brown University to study writing but left before getting her degree because she wanted to get married. Lowry and her husband had four children before divorcing, and they inspired both her writing, and her return to college; she received an undergraduate degree from the University of Maine. Lowry worked fulltime as a housekeeper but spent a fair deal of time writing stories for young adults as well as textbooks. Lowry has written more than twenty books for young adults, and many of them have received book awards and high praise.
In 1993 Lowry published The Giver, the first in a series of books about a dystopian future society. She waited seven years to publish the follow-up novel called Gathering Blue (2000). While the same dystopian society is used in the second novel and the same themes are approached, the characters are different as is the plot. This sophomore novel in the Giver series follows the protagonist, Kira, as she suffers an injury and tries to survive in a world where everyone is expected to be perfect. The third book in the series is calledMessenger (2004), which follows one of the characters from Gathering Blue in his own story. Though the Giver series was originally meant to be only a trilogy, Lowry has penned a fourth and final novel for the series titled Son, set for release in October 2012.
Kira is a teenage girl who lives in a future world ruled by people known as the Guardians. Kira has a deformed leg, which makes her of little use to her people, but she is protected by her mother who holds a hugelysignificant role as robe-threader. When Kira’s mother becomes ill and dies she becomes an orphan, as she lost her father before she was born. Just when Kira thinks that she is going to be banished by her people and sentenced to death, the Guardians save her and assign her to her mother’s old position of robe-threader.The Guardians bring Kira to her new home – the place where all the Council members live called the Edifice. The Edifice is grand beyond anything Kira could ever imagine and the only rule she has to follow is to work on the robe at a satisfactory pace.
Kira befriends other artistically skilled children named Thomas and Jo, and she begins to wonder about why they are all kept there, and why they all lost their parents under mysterious circumstances. Kira grows increasingly suspicious of the Guardians, despite how generous and kind they have been to her, when her mentor Annabella also dies suddenly. The Guardian who watches over Kira, Jamison, tells her that after the yearly Gathering it will be Kira’s job to prophesize the future of her people and sew this prophecy into the robe.Kira feels overwhelmed, but after meeting her father and hearing his story of how he was left for dead many years earlier, she knows she must take on the challenge presented. Kira makes it her mission to write a better and happier future for her people.
Kira is a potent symbol of loyalty within this novel, and so are the people she immediately surrounds herself with.Despite the fact that the Guardians of the village where Kira lives use her for their own benefit and are not especially loyal to anyone, Kira shows them unwavering loyalty out of duty.Rather than escape to live with her father, she stays behind to write a better future for the people she will be leaving behind. Thomas, Matt, Christopher, and the people in Christopher’s village are also symbols of loyalty, which is why they contrast so markedly with those living under the Guardians.
In the dystopian society where Kira lives, there is total power by the Guardians. The Guardians make laws that the people must obey, decide what duties the villagers will have, dictate what the villagers are able to do (for example, women are not allowed to learn how to read or write), and they choose to take exceptional care of those who can aid them the most. While the Guardians believe they have all of the power, actually it is Kira and Thomas who have the power as they are the ones who write the future of their people.
The biggest symbols of strength within this novel are Christopher, and the children. Christopher was brutally attacked and left for dead, but he managed to recover from his injuries despite being permanently blinded and suffering from memory loss. Christopher lived many years all alone until he got the chance to be reunited with his daughter and then found his way by smell and feel. The children are representative of strength because they have all (Kira, Thomas, and Jo) suffered the loss of their parents, were brought into an unfamiliar environment with no parental figures, and are asked to take on extremely valuable jobs for the sake of their entire people.
Maturity is something that all of the children are forced into throughout this novel. Kira and Thomas have their parents taken from them and are then told that they must prophesize the future of their people. This is the sort of move in life that forces a person to grow up and take things seriously. Matt also takes on a certain mature roll as he struggles to find a place where he belongs, which he hopes is with Kira and Thomas. He leaves his family to travel alone in to the woods and find Kira a memorable gift, then risking his life in the process. It seems the gifted children in this society carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Weakness is something that is punishable in the society where Kira lives. Kira was born physically disabled,and she could have been put to death for this limitation, if her mother had not insisted that she be allowed to live. The society,which is controlled by the Guardians, is one of perfection, total obedience, and constant order so having someone within the society who threatens any of these ideals is a liability. When Christopher was beaten until severely disabled, he was carried away by strangers to a new village with all disabled inhabitants who managed to escape a death sentence.
Friendship is powerful within this novel because it provides Kira with a family and a support system she needed after the death of her mother. When Kira meets Thomas she realizes that he is distinctive, and they have a connection through their giftedness; she knows that there is something which holds them together. Matt is a remarkable friend for Kira too because he wants so badly to impress her and earn her love and trust. Matt risks his own life to help Kira and to give her the things that she desires in life.Matt wants nothing more than to make Kira happy, and she is protective of him, as though he was her little brother.
Loss is something that Kira, and the other gifted children, are quite familiar with.They have all lost their parents, though Jo is not aware that hers have actually been killed; on top of this familial loss they have also been moved to a new home which is unfamiliar to them.When the novel opens, Kira is in the Field of Leaving, sitting vigil by her mother’s body and waiting for her soul to move into the afterlife.This is the common practice when someone in Kira’s society dies, rather than having a funeral or an extensive mourning period.
Perseverance is what keeps Kira alive throughout this novel, though originally it is the Guardians who save her. Kira is allowed to live, despite her disability; after the death of her mother, she is allowed to live again and this time is brought to the Edifice to live in luxury. While the Guardians want Kira to live for their own gain, it is Kira’s perseverance and curiosity which helps her grow as a person and help her differentiate between what is right and wrong. Kira’s constant striving for the truth leads her to embrace her role more than ever, for the sake of drawing a better future than is destined.
Control goes along with power in many ways. The Guardians have total power of their people, but it is the control that the Guardians possess which causes the peopleto never even question the power. The Guardians make all of their decisions based on what is best them and what will keep the people under their control the most flawlessly. They act trustworthy and generous toward suffering children in order to have the children do their bidding, never imagining that the children would question the people who have given them a second chance at life.
Kira is the teenage protagonist of the novel. Kira was born with a deformed leg and at the start of the novel she is mourning the death of her only remaining parent. Kira is proficient with sewing, but she never imagined it would earn her a position as the robe-threader, a prestigious honor given to her by the Guardians. Kira is brave, inquisitive, and wise beyond her young years. Though Kira is given the opportunity to live in a place full of kind people who will not judge her for her disability, her sense of compassion for others forces her to stay behind and write a hopeful future for her people.
Thomas is a boy who also lives in the Edifice, and Kira meets him when she starts living there. Thomas is called “the Carver” because he carves remarkable, intricate designs into wooden pieces. Thomas is similar to Kira in that he also lost his parents, he gets strong feelings that some may consider prophetic, and he has a job which gives him the responsibility of dictating the future.Throughout the novel, Thomas and Kira become close to one another, but never more than friends.
Matt is Kira’s friend and he is nine-years-old. Matt is from an area known as the Fen where poor families live in squalor. Matt’s mother has many children and does not seem to care what happens to him; he, like other children in the Fen, does not have a father. Matt is a close friend to Kira and he goes out of his way to make her happy.At one point, he is determined to get her plants,which can be used to dye thread blue so he goes off on a journey alone into the woods where he finds an even better present: Kira’s father, who was presumed dead.
Jo is a young girl who is also from the Fen, but is not living in the Edifice with Kira and Thomas. Jo is not aware that her parents have died, and she often cries in her room because she misses them. Jo is being trained as the next Singer because she has a remarkably beautiful voice that awes everyone who hears it. Kira learns that there were rumors in the Fen about Jo’s singing, and the prophetic powers that her voice is capable of. Jo is thankful for Kira and Thomas because they help to put her at ease when she is living in a strange place.
Christopher is the father of Kira. Christopher was once a respected member of the village and was slated to become a new Council member. However, when Kira’s mother Katrina was still pregnant with her, Christopher was beaten and left for dead before a hunting trip. Though Christopher managed to survive his injuries, he was left badly scarred, blind, and lacking short term memory. Christopher was taken by kind strangers and brought to a village full of disabled people who managed to escape with their lives. Eventually he learns of Kira’s existence from Matt and goes to find her.
Annabella is the older woman who taught Katrina everything she knew about dying threads. When Kira was given her mother’s old position of robe-threader, she was sent to Annabella to get lessons about how to dye threads. Annabella was kind and generous with Kira, but right to the point when it came to Kira’s lessons. The day after Annabella tells Kira that the beasts,which are supposedly in the woods, do not exist, she mysteriously died. Kira is sure that Annabella did not die in her sleep, as she was told, because the circumstances are too coincidental.
Jamison is a member of the Council of Guardians. He is a middle-aged man who serves as Kira’s defense in her hearing against Vandara. Jamison tells Kira that he was with her father when he was taken and killed by the beasts in the woods, though Kira later learns that Jamison is the one who beat her father and left him for dead. When Kira is living in the Edifice, Jamison serves as her advisor and keeps track of the progress she is making on the Singer’s robe. Kira also finds that Jamison is likely the one responsible for the death of her mother and Annabella.
Vandara is a large and imposing woman who lives near Kira’s home in the village. When Katrina dies, Vandara tells Kira that she is no longer of any use to the people of the village, and she must die so they can have her land to build a corral for chickens and small children. It is only when Kira points out her right to a hearing in front of the Council of Guardians that Vandara abandons her murderous impulses and agrees. Vandara has an intimidating appearance and was once accused of poisoning her own child, though she was later acquitted.
Katrina was the mother of Kira and wife of Christopher, though she died just before the start of the novel. Katrina worked as the robe-threader before her death, as she was particularly skilled in needlework and was educated in the art of dyeing threads. Katrina was a kind and compassionate mother, which are traits that she passed on to her daughter. The only reason Kira was allowed to live when she was born deformed is because Katrina fought for her daughter’s life. Though Katrina’s death was thought to be from illness, Kira learns that she was murdered.
Marlena is a woman whom Kira used to work with at the Weaving Shed. Marlena lives in the Fen, an impoverished village where Matt and Jo are also from. Kira runs into Marlena one day on her way to visit Annabella and asks her about Jo, whom she has just met. Marlena tells Kira that Jo is known for her beautiful singing voice, and there is also a rumor that, in addition to singing well, Jo is thought to have psychic abilities.
Branch is the dog belonging to Matt. When Matt found Branch, the dog had a broken leg and Matt set it himself with a splint made of a tree branch; this is how Branch got his name. Branch is Matt’s best friend and accompanies him everywhere. In addition to Branch’s gimp leg, he has a twisted tail which is another trademark feature. Branch is a lot like Kira in this novel as he has an injured leg, is deeply cared for by Matt, and is brave and loyal.
The Guardians are the controlling powers of the society in which Kira lives. There are twelve members in the Council of Guardians, and they make all of the decisions for their society, though they make their decisions look democratic by holding hearings. The Guardians appear to be fair, generous, and kind; though those who are on the inside have a better picture of the lengths the Guardians will go to preserve order and obedience in their society. The Guardians, despite their need for power and control, set their stake in the prophecies of gifted children.
The Singer is an old man who appears once a year to sing the Ruin Song to all of the villagers at the Gathering. The Singer has a beautiful voice and has memorized every word of the several-hours-long Ruin Song by practicing every single day between Gatherings. Jo is training to be the new Singer, but Kira fears this future for Jo because she has seen how the Singer is treated; when he ascended the stage Kira saw the Singer’s legs shackled and scarred.
The Beasts are vicious creatures,which supposedly live in the woods surrounding Kira’s village. Kira was told from a young age that the Beasts were responsible for her father’s death, as well as a scar on Vandara’s face. It is not until Kira visits Annabella and the old woman tells her that the Beasts do not exist that Kira begins to wonder what else the Guardians have lied to everyone about. Matt further assures Kira that Beasts do not exist when he ventures into the woods alone to find the plants that make “blue”.
The Edifice is not a living character, but for the sake of this novel it is most certainly a character. The Edifice is the building where the Council of Guardians lives and holds meetings and hearings; it is also where Kira, Thomas, and Jo are brought to live after they are chosen by the Guardians. The Edifice is a building of grandeur that the children could not possibly have imagined, with lavish furnishings, running water, personal bathrooms, and servants.
Kira has been watching over the dead body of her mother in the Field of Leaving for four days. All dead adult bodies must be watched over for four days to ensure that the soul is given safe passage from the body into the afterlife. Kira lost her father when she was only an infant; he went away on a hunt and never returned so he was presumed to have been killed. With Kira’s mother being gone now, Kira is officially an orphan. Kira senses that her mother’s spirit has left the body, and she is overcome with feelings of worry about her future. Kira has a disabled leg, and in her society, a crippled child is normally sentenced to be euthanized; the only reason Kira was not killed is because her mother refused to allow it. Kira worries that now that she has no advocates, she will not be welcome in her society. The people who live in Kira’s village have not always been accepting of Kira, and it seems obvious that they have contempt for her.
Another custom when an adult dies is to burn all of their belongings if they have died from an illness; this is in an attempt to keep their illness from spreading. Not only has Kira lost her only remaining parent, but she has also lost all of her possessions as well as her home. Kira heads toward the place that was once her home, hoping to find some belongings that she can salvage from the rubble. Kira is determined to rebuild her life and her home, despite her physical limitations. She runs into a friend named Matt who lives in a different village called the Fen and he delivers some unpleasant but expected news: the other villagers intend to run Kira out of town. With Kira gone, the villagers will be able to take her land and build a corral there where they will keep chickens and small children. Kira is not totally surprised by the news, but she knows that she must make some decisions quickly.
When Kira sees her home, she is disappointed that there is nothing to be salvaged.Kira notices that the garden has survived the blaze, and there is a woman stealing her carrots. Kira tells the woman to get away from her garden, and the woman does but, not before she steals all the carrots she can carry laughing all the while. Kira feels worn from her time in the Field of Leaving and sits in the garden to eat while she thinks of her next move. While she is sitting there an imposing figure emerges from the clearing; it is a woman called Vandara who is feared by many, though also respected. Vandara plainly tells Kira that there is no more use for her in the village, and it is time for her to leave. She also explains the plans to build a corral for chickens and children where Kira’s home once stood. Other women from the village appear, and they back Vandara up when she threatens Kira with a large rock. Kira thinks of what her mother would do in this situation and tells the women that she is entitled to a hearing in front of the Council of Guardians. Vandara and the others know this is true, and also know that death is punishable by death in their village, so they drop their rocks and agree to a council the following day. Kira begins planning furiously in her head for the next few days of her life.
At dawn the following day Kira is escorted to the Edifice by a messenger; the Edifice is a building where the Council of Guardians gathers. Kira has cleaned herself up as much as she could manage so she will look respectable in front of the Council members. She has witnessed a few ceremonies in the past and performs some of the rituals she recalls while the Guardians nod in approval. When Vandara arrives, Kira notices that the woman has not bothered with her appearance in the least; she is barefoot and covered in filth. As Vandara is the accuser she first presents her side of the argument, telling the twelve Guardians that Kira is of no use in her village any longer. The Guardians cut Vandara short when they have heard enough and tell Kira that because she is so young she does not have to defend herself, she can choose a Council person to speak for her. After thinking it through, Kira decides she will leave her fate to one of the Council members and trust them to defend her.
Jamison is the name of the Council member who will be representing Kira during the proceedings. He had been taking notes during Vandara’s speech, and he began to address the points she made one by one to the Guardians. Kira is thankful for Jamison and is in awe of his ability to read and how well that skill must serve him in life. As Jamison speaks, Kira plays with a spare bit of cloth that she had sewn intricate patterns into while she tended to her mother. Kira listens to Jamison recall the written code and list the exceptions to all rules that Kira has supposedly broken. He also comments to the Guardians that he knew Kira’s father and was with him when he was killed. The Council takes a break for lunch and Kira sees Matt waiting for her. Matt is worried for Kira, especially because he knows of how evil Vandara can be; she was accused of poisoning her own child. Matt also tells Kira that he and his friends will help her build a new place to live if she makes it through her ordeal. When the hearing resumes Kira senses that something has changed, and she wonders if maybe the Council members have already made a decision. For the first time, Kira thinks that she just may make it out alive.
Kira sees the box holding the Singer’s robe brought in to the council room, and Jamison begins to ask her questions about any training that her mother had given her.Kira is told that the woman he had taught her mother about dying threads is called Annabella and she is still alive so may teach Kira, as well.Vandara demands for the Guardians to make a decision right away and so they decide Kira will take over her mother’s job of tending to the Singer’s robe.With this job, Kira will have a home in the Edifice and her land will be given to Vandara to build the corral.
The Guardians send Kira to get any belongings she may have. Kira runs into Matt who is glad to hear that Kira will be allowed to live; he has brought her some belongings that he saved before the fire and he offers to build her a new cot. Kira visits the place where she had worked and the women wonder if she is finally going to take on a useful duty. Kira knows that her life and duty now belongs in the Edifice so she says her goodbyes to the women she worked with and leaves to visit the place she had lived with her mother one last time.
When Kira makes her way back to the Edifice, she finds Matt and his dog Branch waiting there for her, along with Kira’s belongings. Jamison came to gather Kira and bring her to her new room; he even reluctantly allowed Matt and Branch to accompany her. When Kira saw where she would be living she was in a state of shock and awe, as was Matt. Kira had spent her entire life living in a small, dark place with no windows and sleeping on a pile of straw; Kira’s new home has running water, lavish furnishings, and its own bathroom. Jamison offers for Matt and Branch to stay and spend some time with Kira but Matt declines the invite and heads home. Kira takes advantage of her time alone by going through the items that Matt has brought for her; she finds some things that belonged to her mother, including the skirt she used to work in. Kira is tired from her long day and settles into her new bed, rubbing the piece of cloth she had with her at the hearing for comfort. She thinks of her mother as she looks out the window.
The following morning breakfast is delivered to Kira, and it is a hearty meal. After breakfast, she heads into the bathroom where she knows she should wash, but she is confused by all of the knobs so she decides to just go down to the stream and wash as she always has. As Kira is leaving the Edifice she runs into a boy about her age named Thomas the Carver; he also was brought into the Edifice after losing his parents and his job is to carve intricate designs into wood. Thomas talks to Kira about living in the Edifice; she can get anything she wants from the Tenders and she is free to do whatever she pleases, as long as she does the work she is there for. Thomas asks a Tender to show Kira how to work the knobs in the bathroom and Kira heads back to her room.
After lunch that day Kira heads to her attached workspace to see the robe. The Singer’s robe is truly something to behold and Kira is awed that she gets to work on; she has never even been able to touch it before. Jamison comes in and asks Kira if the supplies she has been given are all she needs, but Kira has yet to examine them. When she does look, Kira is disappointed that all she has to work with is white thread. She admits to Jamison that she does not know much and will have to learn; he looks troubled by this revelation and decides to have Annabella teach Kira to dye threads. Jamison tells Kira that she can take her time because the robe is not going to be needed for a bit, but Kira senses that there is some underlying urgency to the matter. When Jamison leaves, Kira starts making a mental list of what needs to be done to the robe; she decides that she will see Annabella the next day.
Kira goes to see Annabella the following day, and she is accompanied by Matt and Branch. Jamison gives Kira instructions on how to get to Annabella’s hut; it is through the menacing-looking woods, but there is a path to follow that will keep them from harm’s way. While they are walking Kira learns that Matt does not have a father, as is the case with most people in the Fen, and he does not seem affected by this fact. Kira tells Matt about her parents and shows him the locket that she wears which her father had once given her mother as a gift. Matt does not understand the concept of gift-giving so Kira explains it to him; people in the Fen are very poor and no one gives gifts.
When the trio arrives at Annabella’s hut, the old woman knows who Kira is immediately. She gives Kira, Matt, and Branch a drink of water and immediately starts telling Kira about the plants in her massive garden and the colors that each produces for dying threads. Kira tries to absorb everything that Annabella tells her because she knows she must take her job seriously in order to keep it. Before Kira leaves that day Annabella quizzes her on what she has learned and seems pleased with what Kira was able to retain. Annabella sends Kira on her way with some colored thread for the robe, though she tells Kira that she will have to learn to do it herself,as well. Kira asks whether there is any blue thread and Annabella tells her that it is possible, but she does not have the plants; as she looks into the distance she reveals that the plants for blue thread live far away.
Kira begins work on the robe and recites the plants and colors while she works so she does not forget them. Thomas comes in to visit, and he offers to write down the plants for Kira so that he can help her to study sometimes. Kira is careful not to look when Thomas is taking notes because women are not allowed to learn reading and writing. The following morning Kira goes back to the place where she had lived with her mother to salvage whatever color plants she could.At the site where her home had stood, Kira finds the corral-building has already begun.
One day when Thomas visits he asks Kira if she heard a sound like a child’s cry in the middle of the night, but Kira had heard nothing. He gives Kira a gift of a wooden box that he has decorated, and she uses it to store her scrap of cloth. She explains that the cloth gives her comfort and Thomas tells her he has a wood carving that makes him feel the same way. Over time, Kira spends less time getting lessons from Annabella and more time actually working on the robe, studying the pictures on it which detail the history of Kira’s people and mending the imperfections.Before Kira heads to Thomas’ room for dinner, she puts her cloth in her pocket for comfort, as her fingers are aching.As she and Thomas hang out, they can heard the men in the plaza outside choosing weapons for their hunt the next day; Kira sees that Matt has chosen a weapon and is troubled that someone so young would be allowed to participate. Thomas does not understand why Kira cares at first as there are too many young people in the village anyway, but when she explains that Matt is her friend Thomas grows concerned. Just then Kira’s leg begins to hurt, and she realizes it is exactly where the cloth sits; she knows this must be some sort of sign.
Kira and Thomas head into the plaza to bring Matt to safety. Women are not allowed to be in the plaza with men who are preparing to hunt because they get rowdy, but Kira is tough and fights the men off with her walking stick. When they find Matt he is covered in swamp weeds,which he hopes will look like body hair,and he smells awful. Thomas takes Matt’s spear from him and gives it to another hunter, and then the three of them return to the Edifice together. Thomas gives Matt a much-needed bath before the two boys sit down to dinner with Kira. After dinner, Matt asks Kira if he can have her pendent, but she tells him that it is too sentimental to her, as it reminds her of her parents. Matt actually just wants a gift because he has never received one before so Thomas and Kira give him a bar of soap before he leaves. When Kira and Thomas are alone, Kira tells Thomas about her scrap of cloth and how it brings her comfort but also seems to bring her warnings,as well. Thomas holds the cloth and feels nothing from it, but explains that his wood carving gives him similar feelings. Kira feels like she and Thomas have a connection that not many others can have.
One morning when Kira gets to Annabella’s hut she is out of breath and terrified; Kira is sure that she heard beasts growling at her in the woods. When Annabella asks Kira what is wrong she brushes off the idea of beasts and gets Kira some tea. Annabella dives right into their lesson, but Kira keeps bringing up the beasts until Annabella gets frustrated and tells Kira that there are no beasts in the woods and what she heard may have been people pretending to be beasts.
When Kira gets back to the Edifice that day she finds Thomas to tell him about the beasts and about Annabella’s reaction to her fears. Neither Thomas nor Kira has ever seen a beast though they have heard about them on many occasions; even Kira’s father was supposedly killed by a beast. After Kira parts ways with Thomas that night, she thinks more about the beasts and whether they truly exist after all. Kira rubs her cloth for comfort and falls asleep, thinking of her conversation with Annabella. Kira thinks that her cloth is trying to tell her something about her father, but she cannot figure out what.
When Kira wakes in the morning, she cannot shake the feeling that something has changed in the past day, though she does not know what.Kira is not able to go see Annabella that day because the rain is certainly coming down, so she goes to work on the robe instead. Kira recalls that Jamison told her she would begin to sew the newest scene on the robe after the Gathering. She is nervous about creating a picture for the robe but Jamison assures her that the Guardians will tell her what they want depicted. Kira sees the blue skies on the robe and wishes she could fix them, but she has no blue thread. She remembers Annabella telling her that the plants to make the color blue belong to people who live far away. Thomas comes to see Kira, accompanied by Matt and Branch who have trekked through the rain to visit. Thomas mentions that he heard a crying sound again the night before, though Kira heard nothing. He said it sounds like it was coming from the floor below them so they decide to explore and see what they can find.
The floor beneath the one Kira lives on looks identical. At one corner Thomas motions for Kira and Matt to stop moving and they soon see Jamison at one of the bedroom doors. When the person in the bedroom opens the door, there are several voices to be heard including the sound of a crying child. Jamison speaks in a hushed but urgent sounding voice, and the girl in the room begins to sing beautifully. When he hears the girl’s voice, Matt knows who it is; the girl is younger than even Matt and she is from the Fen. The trio heads back to Kira’s room then so they would be free to speak about what they have heard. Matt tells the other two that the girl who was singing had been orphaned, just like Kira and Thomas. The girl’s mother had died and her father had killed himself while sitting with her body in the Field of Leaving. The story makes Thomas and Kira wonder if maybe their parents did not die by accident.
Later that day Kira works on the robe some more and is visited by Jamison. Kira asks Jamison whether he has seen beasts before, and he says that he has, including the beasts that killed Kira’s father. Kira tells Jamison of what she heard in the woods and Annabella’s reaction, and he is appalled that Annabella denied the beasts’ existence. Jamison thinks that Annabella’s age is catching up with her mind and she should be careful what she says. After he leaves Kira feels her cloth is trying to warn her about something again, only she does not know what.
Kira wakes early in the morning to make up for the time she lost with Annabella during the rain. Before Kira can enter the woods she is flagged down by a woman named Marlena that she used to work with in the Weaving Shed. Marlena tells Kira that Matt is working as her replacement, and he is not as good as she was; Marlena is from the Fen just like Matt. Kira decides to ask Marlena about Jo, the girl with the beautiful singing voice. Marlena does not know much, only that Jo’s songs were supposedly prophetic. Kira leaves Marlena and heads toward the woods again where she is stopped by Matt; he has come with the news that Annabella is dead, and she has already been brought to the Field of Leaving. Matt says that he saw Jamison with the men who carried Annabella to the field and Kira reminds herself to ask Jamison what she should do about her training now.Back at the Edifice Kira searches for Jamison but cannot find him; she finds herself knocking on the door to the room Jo is in. Jo does not open the door because it is lockedbut instead talks to Kira through the keyhole; Jo does not know her parents are dead, and Kira does not tell her. Kira promises to return to Jo later and help her to find her mother, though Kira knows this is not quite possible. When Kira gets to her own room Jamison is waiting for her with the news of Annabella’s death. Something tells Kira to be suspicious of Jamison so she does not mention that she has spoken to Jo.
That afternoon Kira sees that men are constructing a dyeing place for her; Kira feels pangs of sadness and guilt because Annabella never had anything so grand. Jamison tells Kira that if she would like to live in Annabella’s cottage someday she will be welcome to it, as it did not need to be burned down because Annabella died naturally in her sleep. Kira asks Jamison if she can stay with Annabella’s body in the Field, but he tells her that the robe is much more prominent at the present time.Kira finds herself wondering if there was foul play involved in Annabella’s death; otherwise, no one would have known she had died.
Later that night Kira meets up with Thomas and asks him questions about his childhood. She mentions that she spoke with Jo, and the girl is locked in her room. Thomas recalls being locked in his own room when he was a child though he thinks it was to protect him, not to punish him. Kira wonders aloud whether children with artistic gifts may be psychic; she tells Thomas of the conversation she had with Marlena. Kira wants Thomas to visit Jo with him that night and Thomas is more than willing to get into some trouble. That night he brings a wooden skeleton key that he carved when he had been locked in his room as a child; this key would open any room in the Edifice. Kira is sure the Guardians will be upset with them if they are caught, but she promised Jo she would return.
That evening, Thomas and Kira wait patiently for the Tenders to finish their jobs, so they can go see Jo. Kira tells Thomas to bring his wooden carving, and she will bring her cloth in the hopes that the items will warn of pending danger. When they get to Jo’s room, Thomas’ key opens the door with no problems. Jo is sleeping and is startled when Kira wakes her, though she soon realizes that Kira is the girl whom she spoke to through the door. Jo wants to see her mother, but Kira tells her that they cannot take her there. Jo says that the Guardians are making her learn a bunch of new songs, but she just wants to sing her old ones. Thomas tells Jo that if she ever needs help all she needs to do is knock on her ceiling with her hairbrush because Thomas’ room is right above hers. Jo is tucked back into her bed by Kira and kissed on the head, just as a mother would do. When Kira returns to her own room, she wonders why she, Thomas, and Jo were brought to live at the Edifice.As she looks at the Singer’s robe, she finds herself wishing that she could make her own patterns as she used to, rather than the ones she was told to make.For the first time since losing her mother, Kira cries.
The next day Kira wants to go to the Fen to see where Jo and Matt live. Thomas is confused as to why Kira wants to go there but agrees nonetheless because it has been two days since either of them has seen Matt and they are beginning to get worried. When they pass by the Weaver’s Shed, Kira learns that Matt has not been seen there in a couple of days, though the women seem glad to be rid of him. As they get closer to the Fen, Kira and Thomas run into some of Matt’s friends who also have not seen him lately. When Kira finally sees the Fen she is appalled by the conditions there; it is filthy, houses are crammed together, and there is a smell that permeates everything. Kira cannot believe her friend lives here. Thomas trades an apple for directions to Matt’s house and one they arrive they learn that Matt left two days prior. Matt’s mom is glad to be rid of him, and one of his younger siblings tells Kira that Matt was leaving to live with them, but he went to find Kira some “blue” first. Kira is confused, but she is more worried. Kira wonders if Matt could have been taken by the Guardians as Jo had but Thomas reminds her that Matt has no specific skills. Kira disagrees because she feels Matt’s ability to always make people laugh is a fantastic skill.
It is almost time for the Gathering, and the entire village is getting ready. Kira has finished her repairs on the robe, and Thomas has finished repairing the intricate designs on the Singer’s staff. Kira tries to get her cloth to give her answers about what happened to Matt, but it does nothing other than comfort her. Kira has been making a point to visit Jo every night, telling her stories and listening to Jo’s hopes of being able to sing her own songs once she is the Singer. When Jamison comes to Kira’s room to view the finished robe he is hugely impressed with her work. Jamison speaks to Kira about past Gatherings and explains the pictures on the robe that she does not understand as well as others. Kira wonders why she never sees the Singer, other than at the Gatherings, and Jamison tells her that the Singer is busy working on his craft just as Kira and Thomas. Jamison reveals to Kira that she will start to fill in the blank spot on the robe after the Gathering, and the picture she creates will tell the Guardians of what they can expect in the future. Kira is nervous that she will be taking on such a task so soon, but Jamison reassures her that she is the right person for the job; he says the Guardians have been waiting many years for Kira.
The morning of the Gathering Kira is woken by the sound of voices outside; the villagers are gathering at the Edifice to hear the Ruin Song, as they do every Gathering. Kira is one of the guests of honor at the Gathering and she must stay in her room until someone comes for her. When Kira is collected she is brought to the stage where she sits with Thomas and Jo; they are introduced as the designer of the future, the carver of the future, and the singer of the future. When the Singer comes out in the restored robe and staff the villagers and Guardians are beyond impressed with the work of Kira and Thomas, as they have exceeded expectations.Kira thinks that she can hear a strange metallic noise coming from somewhere, but she pushes the sound out of her head as she prepares to her the Singer perform the Ruin Song.
The Ruin Song takes several hours to sing and during this time Kira finds that her mind wanders. Kira thinks about how she has broken the law; she has taught herself to read over her months of studying with Thomas, but she has told no one because it is illegal. Kira is secretly immensely pleased with herself for learning this new skill.During the song, Thomas points out a figure heading toward the front row; it is Matt and he is carrying something with him. At lunchtime Kira eats with Thomas and Jo and then they head to Thomas’ room where they find Matt and Branch waiting. Matt tells Kira that he has spent the last several days wandering down the path where Annabella said the “blue” was. He has brought two gifts for Annabella; the small one is a scrap of blue fabric,which Kira is amazed by, and the large gift has not yet arrived. Matt tells Kira that the people who lived the place down the path were all “broken” just like her and all of them were extremelyagreeable people. The place where they lived was full of blue, andduring the whole trip Matt did not encounter any beasts. After lunch, the Singer resumes the Ruin Song and Kira hears the metallic sound again. Suddenly, she is horrified when she understands the sound.
When the Singer gets to the finale of the Ruin Song, Jo goes to the Singer’s side to sing with him, and the villagers join in,as well. Immediately after the Gathering Kira leaves and heads up to her room as fast as her disabled leg will take her. Thomas runs after Kira, wondering what is wrong with her, and just as she is about to tell him she enters her room and sees Matt standing there with a strange man. The strange man is middle-aged, his face is badly scarred, and he is blind. The shirt the man is wearing is blue, and there is a piece missing which is where Kira’s small gift came from; the man is Kira’s big gift. The man has come to the Edifice to teach Kira how to make blue dye, but no one must know he is there. Kira is baffled as to why some stranger would risk his life for her. The man tells Kira that he followed Matt some of the way back but the rest of the way he went by memory and by the feeling of sun on his face. The man tells Kira that he has been there before; he tells Kira that his name is Christopher, and he is her father.
Christopher tells Kira the story that she has been wondering about for years. Christopher was a strong member of the village and was soon to be appointed to the Council. He was getting ready to go out on the hunt one day when Kira’s mother was still pregnant with her, when someone attacked him from behind and clubbed and stabbed him furiously. Christopher was brought to the Field of Leaving, but somehow he only got stronger there; he recovered from his injuries though he was left blind and with a poor memory of his life before the beating. He was taken to a village where everyone was disabled, and they all worked together in harmony. When Christopher finally started getting his memory back he was not able to find his way back to his family. When Matt arrived and began to talk about Kira, Christopher took his chance to finally meet his daughter. Christopher asks Kira to come back with him, as he did not form a new family in his village. Kira tells her father that she is the new robe-threader, and she is sure that Jamison will find him a place to live in the Edifice. At the mention of Jamison’s name, Christopher cringes; he is sure that Jamison is the man who tried to kill him.
The next morning Kira heads to her garden to tend to the plants that her father brought. Kira wonders if her mother may have been poisoned by the Guardians for the purpose of having control of Kira. Kira thinks that this is the most likely scenario and that the same probably happened to Thomas’ and Jo’s parents. Suddenly Kira is reminded of the metallic noise during the Gathering. The sound had come from metal shackles which bound the feet of the Singer; Kira had noticed the shackles and the scars caused by them when the Singer ascended the steps onto the stage. Kira wants to go live with her father, but she knows that she must stay and hopefully design a better future for her people. Christopher understands the decision that Kira has made but vows to stay in contact with her, with the help of Matt. Kira knows that someday, once she has written a better future, she will go to live with her father in his village. When Christopher leaves he gives his daughter a spool of blue thread from the shirt he had worn there. Kira says her goodbyes to her father and Matt and goes about planning a better future for her people.
Frank returned to Hartfield the following morning with Mrs. Weston. Emma had not expected them, but was pleased to see them. They went for a walk for two hours around Highbury, during which Emma was satisfied with Frank’s treatment of Mrs. Weston. Frank found everything he saw of Highbury in a complimentary way. His interest in his father’s past, in particularly, proved to Emma that Mr. Knightley had not done him justice, and that it had not been his choice to put off the visit.
They stopped at the Crown Inn, which had, many years ago, had a large room built for a ballroom. It had been used for some dances, but now it was only used for a whist club. Frank wanted to have balls there once every fortnight during the winter. He wondered why Emma had not brought the room back to its former glory and organized balls—she could do anything in Highbury that she wanted to do. Emma suggested there were not enough families of consequence in the area to attend. Frank continued to argue cheerfully in defence of having dances in the future, and Emma could see none of the proud nature of Enscombe in him.
When they reached the area the Bates family lived in, Emma asked if he managed to visit them the previous day. Frank admitted that he had only intended on staying for ten minutes, but could not get away. When Mr. Weston, finding his son still there, joined him, Frank had been sitting there for 45 minutes! Frank thought Jane looked ill because she was so pale, and Emma found herself defending her. They came to Ford’s and Frank demanded to go in so he could buy something. Emma asked him if he and Jane spent much time together at Weymouth, but Frank would not tell her—it is a lady’s right to decide how well they were or weren’t acquainted. Emma is surprised he has given an answer as vague as the one Jane gave. Emma insists that Jane is so reserved that Frank could really say anything. He admits that he met her frequently that the Campbells were well liked, and they were generally all within the same circle. Emma wonders if he knows what Jane is about to become. Mrs. Weston reminds them not to talk in this way and moves away from them. After they were done with the shop, Frank asked them if they had ever heard Jane play music. Emma has often heard her play. Frank wondered what other people thought about her playing—a man who was in love with another woman would never ask anyone, but Jane to sit down and play the piano if she was nearby. Emma guesses that this man was Mr. Dixon. Emma wondered how Miss Campbell felt. Frank reminded her that Jane was her friend. Emma still felt sorry for Miss Campbell, but Frank did not think she felt it. Emma did not know if that was a good or bad thing—either she is stupid or too sweet. Emma suggested that Jane should have refused to play if Miss Campbell had not been asked, and suggests that something more was at work between them. Frank did not know what to say about their relationship—he could only comment on what he had seen. They talk about Jane’s reserved behaviour and how much it annoys both Emma and Frank—he could never love a reserved person. Emma would never be able to be close friends with Jane—she does not think poorly of her, but is suspicious of people who seem to have things to hide. Frank agreed with her, and Emma felt they were close friends despite it only being their second time together.
Emma thought he was a better man than she expected—kinder and less spoilt by his fortune. Frank would not find anything wrong with Mr. Elton’s house—if a man shared a house with the woman he loved, there would be nothing wrong with it. Mrs. Weston laughed at him and accused him of looking at it from his own spoiled past, but Emma decided this meant he was looking to settle down and marry early in life for love. It seemed to suggest he would give up Enscombe if he found someone to love.
Emma’s opinion of Frank was shaken a little the following day when she heard he had gone to London to have a hair cut. It seemed like nonsense to her, and she did not approve. It didn’t fall into her impression of him as a moderate, rational, unselfish man. This was proof of restlessness and vanity. Mrs. Weston did not like it, either, but Mr. Weston thought it was a good story. Despite this, Emma found that all of her friends thought well of Frank. Mr. Weston suggested that Frank admired Emma a great deal, which led Emma to believe she had been marked out as a possible match for Frank. Mr. Knightley was the only one who did not like Frank and thought his hair cut in London only proved how silly Frank was.
Mr. and Mrs. Weston’s visit to Hartfield brought bad news—something had happened which they wanted Emma’s advice on. The Coles, who had been in Highbury for many years, were low in society. They had kept to their means, at first, but when their wealth increased, they bought a larger house and had become second to the Hartfield house. They had thrown a few parties, but Emma did not think they would invite families above their status. Donwell and Randalls had received their invitations, but Hartfield had not. Mrs. Weston explained it away—they would not be brave enough to invite them, and they knew Mr. Woodhouse did not go out often. Emma still wanted to have the power to refuse, and felt sorry that the friends she liked so much would be attending. Even Harriet would be there!
When an invitation arrives for her, Emma accepts it purely because of their attention to her father. They had wanted to send an invitation earlier, but were waiting on a folding screen to arrive from London so that they could keep drafts away from him. Mr. Woodhouse would not go, but the Coles could come and take tea with them one day. He asks the Westons to take care of Emma while she is out and wishes that Mrs. Weston could have stayed at home with him if she had not married. This only agitated Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. Weston remained quiet until the two ladies could figure out what should be done. Mrs. Goddard would be written to and invited to the house. Mr. Woodhouse would like Emma to come home from the dinner early. Mr. Weston argues against it as it would break up the party and be offensive to their neighbours of ten years. Mr. Woodhouse agrees—she will be safe among friends and will not hurt the Coles by leaving early. Emma only fears Mr. Woodhouse staying up too late for her—he agrees to go to bed only if she eats and gets warm as soon as she arrives home.
Frank had returned with his hair cut and no shame at having gone all the way to London to have it done. Emma decides that not all silly actions mean the person carrying them out is silly. If he was, he would have been ashamed or celebrated the act. She looked forward to seeing Frank again at the Coles’ dinner, and Emma decided she would be happy, despite going to the Coles’ home.
Emma’s carriage followed Mr. Knightley’s, which she was pleased for because Mr. Knightley often refused to use his carriage. Emma complimented him on an entrance befitting a gentleman. Mr. Knightley thanked her, but commented that he wondered if she would know if he was more of a gentleman or not had she not seen him arrive. Emma suggested that Mr. Knightley usually had to pretend to be more important than he felt when he arrived without a carriage because he was ashamed, and now he had nothing to fear. Emma would be more than happy to walk into the house with him. Emma was pleased with the party—she was sat beside Frank and believed it was because he made it so. A conversation at the dinner table catches Emma’s ear—she hears that a pianoforte had arrived at the Bates’ house. They did not know who had ordered it but assumed it couldn’t have come from anyone else but Colonel Campbell. However, Jane had received a letter from the Campbells recently, and nothing had been said about it. They assumed that it was meant as a surprise. The Coles were pleased that Jane had been given an instrument to play as they always felt it was a shame that an accomplished pianist had no piano of her own to play at home. They hoped that their own pianoforte would be played by their neighbours that evening and in particular by Emma. Emma then turned to Frank and suggested that they had the same thoughts—that they believed the pianoforte to have come from Mr. Dixon, and not from Colonel Campbell. While Frank does not know if he feels the same way, he admits that Emma’s theory that they were in love has some merit to it.
When the ladies went to the drawing room, the ladies of a lower status arrived, including Harriet. Jane Fairfax did look superior to Harriet, but Emma was sure that Jane would want to change feelings with Harriet who was glad, despite her shame, to have loved Mr. Elton. Emma did not need to approach Jane in a party this large, and kept at a distance. The subject of the pianoforte was raised, and Jane blushed with guilt when she admitted it was from Colonel Campbell. They were then joined by the gentlemen. Frank stood by Emma when he found there was no seat beside her, and Emma knew then that everyone would think she was his devoted subject, and no one else. After introducing him to Harriet, Harriet felt there was something in Frank that was like Mr. Elton, and Emma had to turn away from her in silence. After a conversation about Highbury and Enscombe, Emma is certain that Highbury is more suited to Frank. He had wished to go away and travel, but now that wish was fading. Emma was sure this was because of his visit to Highbury.
Frank regretted that his time at Highbury was almost half over. Emma wondered if he regretted spending a day having his haircut, but he did not. After Emma spends time talking to Mr. Cole, she turns to find Frank staring at Jane. She asks him what the matter is, and Frank admits he is transfixed with the way Jane has done her hair—he has never seen anything like it and must ask her immediately whether it is an Irish fashion. Emma could not watch Jane to see if she blushed because Frank stood in front of her. Mrs. Weston took his seat before Frank could return. She was longing to talk to Emma—she wonders if she has heard how Miss Bates and Jane arrived at the party. Emma assumed they walked. Mrs. Weston tells her after feeling sorry for them having to walk home on such a cold night and offering a seat in their carriage, she discovered that Mr. Knightley’s carriage had brought and would take them home again. Mrs. Weston thinks it was kind of him to do so, and that this is the only reason why he arrived in the carriage. Emma agrees. Mrs. Weston admits that another thought has entered her head—she has made a match between Mr. Knightley and Jane. Emma disagrees—Mr. Knightley cannot marry because then Isabella’s children would not be able to inherit Donwell. Mrs. Weston does not want the match either, but points out that she has always been a favourite of Mr. Knightley’s. Emma tells Mrs. Weston to avoid match-making as she is not good at it. Mrs. Weston cannot see anything wrong with the match aside from the difference in age and fortune. Mrs. Weston suggests that he might be in love and want to give her a respectable home. Mrs. Weston suggests that the pianoforte has arrived from Mr. Knightley, and not Colonel Campbell. Emma does not think it would be him as he does nothing mysteriously. Mrs. Weston points out that Jane had complained to him on more than one occasion about her lack of an instrument. Mr. Knightley was also silent when Mrs. Cole told them about it at dinner. Emma will not believe any proof of the possibility.
They argued over it until Mrs. Cole approached them and asked Emma to try the pianoforte. Frank had found a seat next to Jane and asked Emma to play. She agreed to—she knew that her talents were limited but could sing fairly well. Frank joined her during one song to sing and was accused of having a talent for music. Frank denied this but sang once more with Emma. Emma then swapped with Jane, whose performance was most definitely superior. Frank and Jane had clearly sung together at Weymouth, but Emma was more interested in Mr. Knightley, who listened with the most attention. She did not want him to marry—little Henry must inherit Donwell. Mr. Knightley came and sat beside her, then, and they talked only of the performance. She complimented him on his kindness toward Jane and Miss Bates—he did not want to talk of his own kindness. Emma would have liked to do the same, but did not think her father would agree. Mr. Knightley is sure she would want to assist others. Emma mentions the gift of the pianoforte was a lovely one, but Mr. Knightley believes it would have been better had they told her it was coming as it would have been an inconvenience. Emma could have sworn at that moment that Mr. Knightley had not given Jane the instrument, but thought he was still attached in an odd way. When Jane’s voice grew hoarse, Mr. Knightley told her not to sing anymore. While Frank tried to persuade her otherwise, Mr. Knightley grew angry and accused him of wanting to hear his own voice. He asked Miss Bates to assist and stop her niece from singing anymore. Miss Bates put an end to all of the singing.
Everything was cleared away when the Coles suggested dancing. Mrs. Weston played for them, and Frank asked Emma to dance with him. While Frank complimented her on her talents, Emma looked around for Mr. Knightley. She knew he hated dances—if he asked Jane to dance, it would suggest something. Jane was asked by someone else, and Mr. Knightley was in conversation with Mrs. Cole. Emma did not worry anymore about little Henry—she felt his inheritance would be safe—and started to really enjoy herself. They danced two dances before they decided it was too late to go on. Frank admitted, while he helped Emma into her carriage, that he was glad for it otherwise he would have had to ask Jane to dance with him.
Emma was pleased that she had gone to the Coles’ dinner party. It gave her many pleasant memories the next day, especially considering she must have delighted the Coles themselves. However, she was uneasy when she remembered what she had said to Frank about Jane’s feelings. She should not have said anything, but was unable to stop herself. She also regretted the inferior quality of her performance compared to Jane’s. She sat down and practised for an hour and a half. Harriet interrupted her, then, and complimented her but Emma did not find comfort in it. Harriet told her what compliments people had made about Emma the previous night, but Emma finds fault in all of them—Jane is much better.
Harriet adds that she heard something from another family there, the Coxes. Emma was afraid to ask, thinking that the subject of Mr. Elton might be brought up again, but she reveals that Mr. Martin had dinner with them a week before. Miss Nash thought that either of the Coxes daughters would be glad to marry him. Emma suggests the Coxes daughters are vulgar. Harriet had business to attend to at Ford’s, so Emma went with her, fearing another meeting with the Martins. While Harriet took a long time to figure out what she wanted to buy, Emma went to the door to watch people pass. She looked down the Randalls road to see Mrs. Weston and Frank walking towards Hartfield. They stopped at the Bates’ house first and, before they could knock, saw Emma and walked toward her. They were going to the Bates’ to see and hear the new pianoforte. Frank suggested he might join Emma and Harriet and go onto Hartfield while Mrs. Weston pays her visit. Mrs. Weston was visibly disappointed. Emma suggests he should go with Mrs. Weston. Frank agrees to, but wonders what will happen if he has to lie about the quality of the instrument—he cannot tell convincing lies. Emma does not believe this—he can tell lies when he needs to, but she is certain he will not have to. Mrs. Weston and Frank return to the Bates house.
Harriet continued her indecision until Mrs. Weston and Miss Bates arrived at the shop door and asked them to come across to hear the new pianoforte. After Miss Bates rambles on, including mentioning Frank’s suggestion that Emma should come and hear the instrument, Emma tells them she would be happy to come and visit. They step out into the street. Miss Bates reveals that Mr. Knightley had visited them the other day and promised to send them more of the apples from his orchard because Jane enjoyed them.
They find Frank fixing Mrs. Bates’ spectacles, and he was happy to see Emma—even ten minutes before he had calculated she might return. Mrs. Weston is surprised he is still fixing the spectacles, but Frank insists he had other tasks to accomplish, too: he was helping Jane make the pianoforte steady on the uneven floor. Frank made Emma sit beside her and looked for the best baked apple for her to eat. Jane was not ready to play just yet, and Emma believed it was because the instrument was so new to her and made her emotional. Jane began, and the pianoforte was complimented. Frank, while smiling at Emma, agreed that Colonel Campbell or the friend he had asked to help had exceptionally good taste. Frank asked Jane if Colonel Campbell had a direct hand in finding the pianoforte, but Jane could not answer—she would only be guessing until she received a letter from Colonel Campbell. Emma whispers to Frank to stop teasing Jane—she had not meant to say anything.
Frank asks her to play something from the previous night, but Jane plays something from Weymouth. Frank remembers the tune and Jane blushes, and then plays something else. Frank points out that Colonel Campbell sent sheet music with the pianoforte because he knew she would have none with her, which Frank believes shows how much affection went into the present. Emma caught Jane smiling to herself and blushing. Jane was apparently remembering something from her past. While Jane played, Emma admitted again that she wished she had not said anything. Frank is pleased she did as he now has the ability to open her up a bit more. Frank does not think she feels bad about her past, or wrongly because she is currently playing Mr. Dixon’s favourite song.
Miss Bates saw Mr. Knightley on horseback. She decides to go into her mother’s room and call from the window to invite him in. Mr. Knightley asks after Jane and wonders if she is well. Mrs. Weston gave Emma a particular look, but Emma shook her head. Mr. Knightley then asks if he could fetch anything from Kingston while he is there. Miss Bates has nothing for him to do, but asks him to come inside. He agrees to do so for five minutes, but when he hears that Mrs. Weston and Frank are there, decides he cannot stay for even two minutes. He will call in on another day to see the pianoforte. Miss Bates compliments Frank and Emma for their dancing the previous night, and Mr. Knightley knows they are listening and agrees, but adds that Jane and Mrs. Weston should be complimented to. Miss Bates thanks him for the apples, but tells him off for sending his entire store of them. Before she can say another word, Mr. Knightley leaves.
Emma decided it must be time for her to go home. Frank and Mrs. Weston walked them to the Hartfield gates and then left for Randalls.
Frank wanted another dance. He spent the last moments of an evening at Randalls trying to persuade them all into giving another ball. Frank walked the length of the room to see how large it was—he wanted the same visitors and the same musicians to attend. Mr. Weston decided it was a great idea, Mrs. Weston would play for as long as they wanted to dance, and the rest of the people there tried to figure out how many couples could dance in the room. Five couples listed turned into ten, and they wondered if they couldn’t open the doors to two rooms and dance across the hall. Some of them thought it would be a bad idea, and Mr. Woodhouse thought it would be unhealthy. He was worried about the ladies, particularly Emma, getting a cold because of the air. The passage plan was given up, and the room they had decided was not big enough for ten, suddenly was. Emma disagreed—there would not be room enough for ten couples. Frank did not want to give the plan up—he did not want his father to be disappointed.
The next day, Frank arrived at Hartfield with an announcement. He suggests the dance be given at the Crown Inn, instead, and asks for Emma’s hand in the first two dances. Emma agrees with the plan as long as the Westons and her father agreed. Mr. Woodhouse did not understand how the Crown Inn could be safer for their health than the Randalls, and opposed the plan. Frank tells them they will not have any windows opened, which sometimes happens at parties. Mr. Woodhouse sees the plan as a better one, but still wants to discuss it in detail. Emma suggests that the Crown would be better for the horses as the stable was nearby, and Frank points out that Mrs. Weston is in charge of directing the Crown and getting it ready. Mr. Woodhouse is pleased with this because Mr. Perry approves of Mrs. Weston—she was always so careful when helping Emma with sicknesses.
Frank had left the Westons looking over the Crown space to see what might be done, and had rushed over to Hartfield to see if they would join them and offer their own advice. Emma was happy to do so. Mrs. Weston thought the wallpaper was dirty, but her husband assured her they wouldn’t see any of that by candlelight—they never saw it during their games nights. Emma and Mrs. Weston exchanged a look that seemed to say no man can see if something is dirty or not. One problem was where they would have their supper. Mrs. Weston suggested not have supper and just having sandwiches set out, but this was rejected. She wished that they could have their guests’ opinions as to what to do so they could do what was generally pleasing for all. Frank suggests calling on the Coles or for Miss Bates. Emma suggests not consulting Miss Bates as she will tell them nothing—she will only agree with whatever they have to say. Frank will not bring the entire family, and he is fond of hearing Miss Bates talk. Mrs. Weston agreed with the plan, and Frank is told to bring Jane with him.
Mrs. Weston, in the meantime, had looked into the passage and found it was not as bad a spot to have supper after all, and so all of the decisions had been made before Jane and Miss Bates returned. Frank had already written to Enscombe asking to stay beyond his original fortnight, and the rest of the elements of the party would be decided on by Mrs. Weston. When Miss Bates arrived she assumed her role as approver and agreed with everything that had been decided. Emma was secured by Frank for the first two dances, and Emma overheard Mr. Weston whisper to Mrs. Weston that he knew Frank would ask her.
Emma wanted the date for the ball to be within Frank’s original fortnight so that the Churchills did not call him back. However, this was not feasible, and they would not be able to get everything ready until the third week. Enscombe did not approve but could not say anything against Frank staying. Emma was less anxious about this element, and started to worry about Mr. Knightley’s indifference to it. He did not seem interested in it, whether because he hated dances or because everything had been decided without his help, and was not excited by it. He will not refuse the invitation, but he would rather be at home doing work. Jane Fairfax, on the other hand, was excited by the prospect of the dance. Emma was further convinced that Mr. Knightley did not care much for Jane if he did not share her feelings for the dance.
However, a letter arrived from Mrs. Churchill, demanding his presence at Enscombe immediately. She was unwell and could not do without him. She had not mentioned it before, wanting to save Frank from having to rush back, but now she needed him. Mrs. Weston wrote to Emma immediately to tell her of the letter—he had to leave in a few hours but was not worried about his Aunt. Her illnesses arose only at her own convenience. He would be stopping in at Hartfield before he went. Emma was sorry to lose Frank and the dance. That Emma had been correct in her prediction was her only consolation. Mr. Woodhouse felt strongly about Mrs. Churchill’s illness and he was happy that they would be staying safely at home. When Frank arrived at Hartfield, his sorrow was clear. Emma suggested he would be back again, but Frank did not know when he would be back. He was sorry he did not listen to Emma and have the dance immediately. Emma would have rather been wrong. She wondered if Frank had delayed in coming to Hartfield because he did not have a positive view of Highbury. Frank laughed and denied it, but Emma knew this was the reason. Frank admitted he already been in to say goodbye to the Bates house. He started to announce his love for Hartfield, and then suddenly stopped, unable to say anything else. Emma saw that he was more in love with her than she had known, and did not know what would have happened had Mr. Woodhouse not stepped into the room then. Frank would hear all about Highbury from Mrs. Weston’s letters. He then said goodbye and Emma was sorry to feel his absence.
It had been a happy fortnight for her, and she considered that she must be in love with him a little, despite her determination not to. She feels the restlessness is due to his disappearance from Highbury, and she knows others will also mourn the loss of the dance—all, that is, except for Mr. Knightley. He did not, however, appear to be happy. He was not sorry for the loss, but he was sorry for Emma’s disappointment. It was a few days before Emma saw Jane and discovered that she had been unwell, and probably wouldn’t have been able to attend the ball anyway.
Emma continued to think about her love for Frank—she wondered by how much she was in love with him. It was lovely to hear about Frank, to wait for a letter and to wonder when he might return to Highbury, but she was not unhappy. She could imagine his faults, and as she sat she thought of the way their friendship might have evolved, imagining conversations and elegant letters. The conclusion to every imaginary scenario led to her refusing him and them staying friends. She did not think she could be completely in love if she could not even imagine marrying him. Emma suspects she does not need him to be happy, and will not persuade herself to be more in love than she appears to be. Emma has no doubts that Frank is in love with her, and she must not encourage him when he returns to Hartfield. She thinks she has been let off easily—everyone is meant to be in love once in their lives, and she is happy to have it over and to have ended happily.
When Frank’s letter to Mrs. Weston arrived, Emma read it. It was a long letter detailing his journey and his feelings about it. Emma was pleased to see that her name was mentioned more than once in compliments. Frank sent his apologies to Emma’s “friend” Harriet, who is not mentioned by name. Emma is sure that this remark was meant for her more than for Harriet. Mrs. Churchill was still recovering from her illness, and Frank was unable to suggest a time when he would be back in Highbury again. Although Emma was pleased by the letter, she found it did not leave any lasting happiness with her, and she was decided that they must do without one another. She considered matching Harriet and Frank together as Frank had been struck by her beauty, but then decided against it—it would be in Harriet’s advantage, but Emma knew the dangers of speculating marriage matches.
Where Frank’s visit had meant less conversations about Mr. Elton, the reverse was now true. His wedding date to Miss Hawkins was named, and he would soon be back at Highbury with his bride. Frank was not discussed. Emma was tired of it—she had had three weeks without hearing Mr. Elton, which she hoped had helped Harriet to get over him. She had not. Harriet required comfort from Emma, but it was hard work when Harriet never seemed to get any better or change her opinions. Emma tried a different angle—she accuses Harriet of dwelling on her unhappiness and insulting Emma in the process because of her mistake. She has not forgotten it was her own doing, and she will never forget it, and Harriet must stop trying to remind her of it. Emma wants Harriet to forget for her own sake, not for Emma’s, because Emma will never forget. Emma’s appeal to Harriet’s affection for her helped considerably. Harriet felt she was ungrateful to Emma, and Emma had never loved her more. She thought Harriet’s tenderness of the heart was like her own father’s or Isabella’s. Emma does not have it herself, but she respects it in others. She thinks of Harriet as her superior in this sense, and the superior to the cold Jane Fairfax. Emma even longs for a man who might transform her from an Emma into a Harriet, knowing the value of affection and kindness, but having none herself.
Mrs. Elton was first seen at Church, but the pews were not a good viewing location, and so it was left to the formal visits to see if she was pretty or not. Emma did not want to be the last to pay her respects to the family and made sure Harriet went with her to avoid too many unpleasant moments. Emma was struck by her memories of three months before, when she entered the house to lace up her boot. She believed Harriet was remembering the same, but she behaved herself and kept quiet. They kept the visit short, and Emma found that she was so occupied by her past memories that she could not form an opinion of Mrs. Elton. She did not really like her, however, as Mrs. Elton was not elegant. Mr. Elton’s manners were awkward, but Emma forgave him for that—it must have been hard to be in the same room as his new wife, the woman he wanted to marry, and the woman he had been expected to marry.
After the visit, Harriet and Emma discuss Mrs. Elton. They both admit that she is charming and well dressed. Neither is surprised that Mr. Elton fell in love with her, but they disagree about Mrs. Elton being in love with him. Emma suggests that not all women can marry the men they love—they have to marry for a home, and take the best offer they will likely receive. Harriet admits that she will not be afraid of seeing them again as Mr. Elton being married makes everything different. She is comforted to know that he did not throw himself away and that he married someone he deserves.
When a return visit was made at Hartfield, Emma managed to talk to Mrs. Elton by herself for fifteen minutes. She decided that Mrs. Elton was a vain woman who was interested in her own importance. She wanted to be superior, but her manners were not excellent ones. Emma was convinced that Harriet would have been a better match for Mr. Elton, and that it was only the rich brother in Bristol which had enticed him into the alliance. The brother’s home in Maple Grove was compared to Hartfield—Mrs. Elton thought they were quite similar and compared the gardens and the house to the point where she could imagine she was back home. She is sure that her brother and sister will love Hartfield particularly for the extensive grounds, but Emma doubts this statement—no one with extensive grounds cares about any other household with them. Emma tells Mrs. Elton that after she has seen more of Surrey, she will have found she has overrated Hartfield. Mrs. Elton is well aware—she knows that Surrey is the garden of England. Emma reminds her that many counties claim to be the garden of England, but Mrs. Elton disagrees—she has never heard of anywhere but Surrey called this name. Emma keeps quiet.
Mrs. Elton goes on to describe the future visit her brother and sister will make, and the exploring they will do. Mrs. Elton is sure that Emma and her friends do the same thing, but Emma does not go far and insists that they are more inclined to stay at home. Mrs. Elton claims she is the same way, but does not believe people who shut themselves off from society do themselves any favours—it is better to live in moderation. Mrs. Elton suggests that taking Mr. Woodhouse to Bath might help his health and let Emma go out more often. Emma tells her Mr. Woodhouse has attempted it before with no benefit to his health and that his doctor, Mr. Perry disagrees with the place. Mrs. Elton offers to introduce Emma to the best society in Bath as she has led a secluded life. Emma could not stomach this suggestion—to be in debt to Mrs. Elton for the introduction would be undignified. Emma remained polite and thanked her, but reminded her that going to Bath was out of the question. She changed the subject quickly.
Emma and Mrs. Elton talked about music. Emma had heard Mrs. Elton was an excellent performer, but Mrs. Elton insists that she is mediocre in talent. She loves to perform, and this was the only condition that Mrs. Elton made clear to Mr. Elton before they were married—she could do without all of the pleasures and luxuries she was used to at Maple Grove except for being part of a musical society. Emma assured her they were quite musical at Highbury. Mrs. Elton is pleased and suggests that they hold small concerts and attend weekly meetings. She thinks this will help her to continue with her music, especially as married women tend to give up their musical hobbies. Emma does not think she will give it up if she loves it that much, but Mrs. Elton doubts this.
Mrs. Elton changes the subject. She has visited Randalls and thinks that Mrs. Weston is a lovely person. She is surprised, however, that she is also quite lady-like, but Emma insists that her manners have always been very good. Mrs. Elton asks her to guess who was there when they visited, but Emma had no idea. Mrs. Elton tells her they met Mr. Knightley there, whom she had been looking forward to meeting after Mr. Elton had mentioned him so often. She likes him very much. At this point, the Eltons had to leave, and Emma could finally breathe.
She could not believe Mrs. Elton had the audacity to call Mr. Knightley, “Knightley”, and this to only be their first visit. She is also insulted that Mrs. Elton was surprised to find Mr. Knightley was a gentleman and that Mrs. Weston was a gentlewoman, and that she suggested the musical club. She imagines how angry Frank would be if he was there.
Mr. Woodhouse thought she was quite a charming young lady and would make for a fine wife. He still did not think Mr. Elton should have married. He made his excuses to them for not visiting, and hoped that he would be able to in the summer. He worries that he has insulted them by not visiting the new bride before now, but Emma assures him that his apologies would be well accepted. If he does not like marriage so much, he should not pay his respects to a bride or he would be seen encouraging more people to marry. Mr. Woodhouse still believes that a bride should have attention paid to her. It is polite and has nothing to do with encouraging marriage. Emma continued to be occupied by Mrs. Elton’s insults.
On the second visit with Mrs. Elton, Emma felt secure in her opinions—she was still self important despite her little beauty and accomplishments. She thought that she had come to this country neighbourhood to improve it. Mr. Elton was proud of his wife and appeared to believe not even Emma was her equal. Emma continued to stick to her original polite compliments. Mrs. Elton’s feelings toward Emma, however, changed. She was probably offended by Emma’s reserved nature and started to draw away from her, as well. This only added to Emma’s dislike of her. Both Mrs. Elton and Mr. Elton were cruel to Harriet, and Emma only hoped that it would cure Harriet of her love. It was likely that Mr. Elton had told his wife what had happened, making sure to show himself in a better light.
Mrs. Elton did like Jane Fairfax; before Mrs. Elton stopped confiding in Emma, she admitted that she wanted to do something for Jane to bring her forward in life. Mrs. Elton did not want her talents and charm to go to waste when she becomes a governess. Emma does not understand how Mrs. Elton’s attention could be any different than that of the rest of Highbury. Mrs. Elton insists that she lives in a style which could support Jane—she will have her at her house whenever she can, introduce her to those she can, have musical parties to show off her talent and be on the look out for an eligible husband for her. Mrs. Elton has many friends, and she does not doubt hearing of someone suitable soon. Emma thought Jane did not deserve this, even if she had acted improperly around Mr. Dixon. Thankfully, Mrs. Elton’s change came soon after, and Emma did not have to listen to her talk about this again. Emma was surprised that Jane accepted Mrs. Elton’s help and attention and Emma heard of Jane spending time with them most days. Emma did not understand why Jane was still at Highbury and had not returned to the Campbells. They had decided to stay on for longer during the summer, and a new invitation had arrived for Jane, but she had declined to go. Emma feels there must be a hidden motive for refusing the invitation. Mrs. Weston explains to Emma that Jane must have accepted the Eltons as friends because it is better than her Aunt for company. Mr. Knightley agreed with this theory and added that she was capable of deciding for herself who she spent time with. Had Emma taken the time and effort to pay attention to her, Jane may not have chosen Mrs. Elton for her friend. Mr. Knightley added that Jane probably impressed Mrs. Elton by her superior mind and talent, and that she deserves the respect that Mrs. Elton gives her. Emma—suddenly afraid for Henry’s inheritance again—tells Mr. Knightley she knows how highly he thinks of her and that his admiration for her might take him by surprise one day. Mr. Knightley tells Emma she is far behind in her theories—Mr. Cole suggested it over a month ago. Even if Mr. Knightley asked Miss Fairfax, she would not have him, and he will not ask her. He realizes that Emma has been matching him with Jane, but Emma denies it. She would never take that kind of liberty with him and did not want him to marry anyone. Mr. Knightley assures her he has never thought of Jane in that way—she does not have the open temper which he wished for in a wife. Jane has feelings, but she is too reserved and cold. When Mr. Knightley left them, Emma asked what Mrs. Weston had to say about her theory about them being in love. Mrs. Weston does not think she has been beaten yet as he might be opposing the idea so much that he might actually be in love with her after all.
Everyone who had ever visited Mr. Elton before had to give him attention for his marriage. There were dinners and parties given for him and his new wife, and Mrs. Elton thought she would never have a day without something to do. She was used to going to dinners and parties because of her past at Bath and Maple Grove, and she corrected all the little mistakes some of the neighbours in Highbury made in their arrangements. Emma would not be satisfied until she gave a dinner at Hartfield for the Eltons because she did not want to be insulting them. Mr. Woodhouse agreed to it. Emma invited Harriet, but she begged not to attend. She did not want to see Mr. Elton happy with his wife and would rather stay at home. Emma was secretly pleased because she actually wanted to have Jane as her last dinner party guest, especially considering the last conversation she had had with Mr. Knightley about her. She wanted to show her the attention Mr. Knightley thought Emma should give her. Emma was sad that she did not try and be friends with Jane because it was expected of her. She did not think that Jane would accept her as a friend now, but Emma would still show her attention.
However, they received word that Mr. John Knightley would be visiting the day of the party. Although Mr. Woodhouse was anxious about a ninth person being at the dinner, Emma comforted him. As it happened, Mr. Weston was called out of town on business and would not be able to attend the dinner. Mr. John Knightley talked with Jane for a while and did not pay much attention to Mrs. Elton, except to take in enough detail to relay to Isabella when he returned home. He criticizes Jane for walking in the rain to collect letters. Jane expresses the value of friendship, especially those who were not near her and probably never would be, and so she must walk to the post-office no matter what the weather is doing. Mr. John Knightley suggests that, in ten years, she will have people she cares about in her more immediate circle and will not have to keep walking to collect her letters. Jane is a little tearful and grateful to him for saying so. Mr. Woodhouse interjected then and insisted young ladies should take better care of themselves. Mrs. Elton was then interested in this conversation about Jane walking in the rain, and was upset that she was not there to take care of her. Jane insisted she had not caught a cold, but Mrs. Elton told her off for not being able to take care of herself. Mrs. Weston agreed: Jane must not take risks or she might bring her cough on again. Mrs. Elton suggests that they will get one of their servants to collect her letters to stop Jane from having to fetch them, but Jane has been told to walk outside every day. She refuses to accept Mrs. Elton’s help because she likes walking to the post-office.
Jane changes the subject slightly and talks to Mr. John Knightley about the advantages of the post-office. She is fascinated that they rarely lose a letter. The conversation then moved onto the observations of handwriting. Mr. John Knightley believed that the handwriting of a family or close relations were often the same. Isabella and Emma’s handwriting are similar, for example. Everyone, including Mr. Knightley, agreed that Emma’s handwriting was lovely. Emma praised Frank’s handwriting, then, which Mr. Knightley disagreed with—he thought Frank wrote like a woman. Emma and Mrs. Weston disagree and wish they had a sample of writing to prove it to Mr. Knightley. Mr. Knightley jokes that a man like Frank would always use his best handwriting when writing to someone like Emma.
Emma was curious that Jane had refused help fetching her letters. She suspected that Jane had received a letter that had cheered or excited her because she seemed happier. She could have asked Jane a question about the speed of the Irish post, but she decided not to in case she would hurt Jane’s feelings.
When the ladies returned to the drawing room, two parties formed. She and Mrs. Weston talked together and Mrs. Elton drew Jane away. Emma did not want to talk to Mrs. Elton and Jane was engrossed by her attention. The post office situation was talked over again, and then Mrs. Elton asked if she had heard of a governesses position yet. Jane has not made any enquiries yet because she has not fixed on a month for her to be employed. Mrs. Elton suggested that it would be more difficult if she left it so late, but Jane is well aware. Mrs. Elton does not think she is—she has seen more of the world than Jane has done. Jane wants to spend more time with Colonel and Mrs. Campbell when they return to town mid-summer, and then she will make her own enquiries. She does not want Mrs. Elton to do anything on her behalf. Mrs. Elton insists that she write to her friends, and Jane continues to refuse. She will find something when she wants to. Mrs. Elton is worried she will not find a position worthy of her talents and accuses Jane of being modest.
Later on, when the men stepped into the drawing room, Emma overheard Mrs. Elton speak to Jane about Mr. Woodhouse. She admires his old fashioned manners and politeness and wishes Jane could have heard all of the compliments she received from him during the dinner. Just then, Mr. Weston returned from his business trip out of town, and everyone was generally pleased to see him. Mr. John Knightley was amazed that he would come to Hartfield when he could be at home out of the cold and in bed. His arrival at the party would lengthen it considerably. He was happy, and after making his compliments to everyone, he gave Mrs. Weston a letter, which they had just received. He asks her to read it to Emma. It is from Frank. He will be travelling close to Highbury the following week with the rest of the family and will split his time between the two places. Mrs. Weston was happy as she should be. Emma did not know how she felt about this. Mr. Weston went around the room to tell other people the news, and finding that Mrs. Elton was not currently talking to anyone, started with her first.
Mr. Weston expressed his hope that he would be able to introduce Frank to Mrs. Elton soon. They begin a rambling conversation wherein Mrs. Elton chastises Mr. Weston for opening his wife’s letters. They discuss the distance of Enscombe to London, and although Mrs. Elton thinks it is extraordinarily far, she does not think travelling distances truly matters to people of large fortunes. Mr. Weston tells her that Mrs. Churchill had been so weak that she had been unable to move for a week. She will only stop for two days on the road. Mrs. Elton agreed with this decision—sleeping in an inn is quite horrific for many ladies. Mr. Weston does not believe Mrs. Churchill is actually ill and that she has actually grown tired of being at Enscombe instead. Mrs. Elton hopes that when Frank returns he will be pleased to find an addition to Highbury, and she suggests that he would have never heard of her. Mr. Weston indulges this call for a compliment: Mrs. Weston has often written about Mrs. Elton to Frank. While Mrs. Elton continues to fish for compliments, Mr. Weston tries to tell her about Frank’s journey and Mrs. Churchill. He is looking forward to Frank being there for the nicer weather. He adds that he hopes Mrs. Elton is aware of his past history with Mrs. Churchill and that this informs his general attitude about her. He hopes he has not treated her too poorly. Instead of commenting on Mrs. Churchill, Mrs. Elton once again brings up Maple Grove and the people she disliked there.
Thankfully, they were interrupted by tea and Mr. Weston escaped her. While some of them played cards, Mr. John Knightley went over the plans for his two oldest sons while they stayed at Hartfield. Emma promises to do everything she can to make them happy. Mr. John Knightley wonders if they will get in her way, especially considering that her social life seemed to have picked up. Emma denies that there has been a difference, but Mr. John Knightley thinks she is much more involved in Highbury society than she has ever been. Although he suggests that the boys should be sent back home if they get in the way, Mr. Knightley opposes this—he would rather the boys be sent to him. Emma denies her social life has increased—it might seem that way because of discussions of dances that never happened, but it is not true. She always has time for her nephews—much more than Mr. Knightley had because of his business.
Emma figured out why she was agitated by the news of Frank returning. It was out of embarrassment for him because her attachment to him had disappeared. If Frank’s attachment had not cooled either, there would be some awkward times ahead for her. She would need to be cautious. She wanted to keep him from declaring his feelings for her outright, but she felt like the Spring would not pass before something substantial would happen to alter her peaceful state.
When Frank finally arrived at Hartfield, Emma immediately noticed that his treatment of her had altered considerably, and he was not as in love with her has he had been before he left. He was friendly and happy as he always was. They talked about old stories from his previous visit. He was restless and could only stay for a moment to visit other friends in Highbury. Emma considered that his restlessness might be due to his disinclination to trust himself around her. This had been the only visit he made to Hartfield in ten days. He had continued to hope to come, but he was always prevented from doing so—Mrs Churchill could not spare him. Frank admitted that she was weak and sicker than she had been half a year before and needed his attention. London was not for Mrs. Churchill, and they soon heard that they would move on to Richmond.
Frank wrote to the Westons and expressed his happiness. He would be much closer to Highbury and could visit more often. Emma thought Mr. Weston expected an engagement to bring him happiness before too long. She hoped she was wrong. Another good thing about this new arrangement was the ball at the Crown. Preparation for it began again. Frank wrote from Richmond to tell them his Aunt was improved, and he would be able to join them for the ball. Mr. Woodhouse felt it was a better idea to hold the ball in May than in February and could not complain as much about it. Mrs. Bates would spend the night with Mr. Woodhouse, and he hoped that neither of the Knightley boys would need anything while Emma was out for the evening.
Nothing prevented the ball from happening this time. Frank arrived at Randalls in time for the ball, and everything was set. Emma and Frank had not had a second meeting before the ball, but Emma thought it would be best to have this meeting without a crowd around them. Mr. Weston had asked her to arrive at the Crown before anyone else to make sure everything was set, and so she had some quiet time with Frank before the ball. When she arrived other carriages of close family friends and cousins had arrived to also give their opinion on the Crown’s Inn space. Emma thought half the party might have been invited to do the same task.
Frank was curious to meet Mrs. Elton. Emma wanted to know what his first opinion of her might be. The Eltons carriage had returned to fetch Miss Bates and Jane, and at the first sign of rain, Frank went outside to help them inside. Mrs. Elton took the time to compliment Mr. Weston on his son. She did not wait long enough for Frank to be out of earshot, however. When Mrs. Elton changed the subject to that of Maple Grove, Mr. Weston suddenly remembered that there were women who needed help and hurried away. Mrs. Elton expressed her pleasure to Mrs. Weston at being able to help friends with her own carriage, and insisted that the Westons would not need to offer their own carriage again. She will always take care of them. Miss Bates arrived in the room and started to, almost without taking a breath, speak incessantly. She was pleased with everything she saw in the Crown and delighted to see everyone. She reveals that she forced Jane to wear a shawl that Mr. Dixon had chosen for her. She expressed her gratitude for Frank’s kindness in not only helping with her mother’s spectacles, but also for helping them inside the inn.
Emma and Frank stood together then and overheard Mrs. Elton and Jane talk. After Mrs. Elton gave Jane many compliments, Mrs. Elton then pushed for compliments of her own. She mentions that she had heard Frank is a fabulous dancer and intends to find out for himself. Frank started to talk loudly, then, and Emma imagined it was because he did not want to hear any more. Emma whispered to him and asked if he liked Mrs. Elton. He did not. Still in an odd mood, Frank ran off to find his father to find out when the dancing was to begin. The Westons returned to Emma—they had realized that they would have to ask Mrs. Elton to start the dancing despite them wanting to give Emma that honour. Mr. Weston wondered what they would do for a partner—she is likely to want Frank for a partner. Frank turned to Emma then and boasted that he was already taken, which Mr. Weston was pleased for. Mrs. Weston talked her husband into dancing with Mrs. Elton, which he agreed to. They started the ball and Emma and Frank danced second. Emma was sad that she had to stand second to Mrs. Elton as she had always thought of the ball as hers.
Emma was not happy with Mr. Knightley, who was not dancing and standing at the side talking. He stood out among the other men as a striking gentleman, and she guessed that he would be a graceful dancer. During the last two dances, Harriet had no partner. Neither had Mr. Elton, but Emma was sure he would not ask her to dance. He walked close to her and asked Mrs. Weston to dance. She declined on account of there being others who would make a better partner for him. She points out that Harriet has no partner and Mr. Elton changes his mind about dancing altogether. He announces he is a married man and cannot dance anymore. Mrs. Weston and Emma were shocked. Mr. Elton returned to his seat near Mr. Knightley, and he exchanged a smile with his wife. Emma looked away, and then looked back again to find Mr. Knightley leading Harriet onto the dance floor. She was grateful to him. Mr. Elton had retreated into the card room, probably because he felt foolish.
Emma had no chance to talk to Mr. Knightley until after supper, where she thanked him for his kindness to Harriet. He asked Emma why the Eltons were her enemies as he could see that they aimed to hurt more than Harriet. Emma confesses that she wanted Mr. Elton to marry Harriet, and that neither of them can forgive her for it. Emma admits she was completely wrong about Mr. Elton. Mr. Knightley had described him fairly perfectly. Mr. Knightley admits she had chosen better for him than he has chosen for himself as Harriet has more good qualities than Mrs. Elton does. Emma was grateful for his admission. Mr. Knightley wondered who Emma would dance with next. She asks him to dance, and he agrees.
Emma was glad she and Mr. Knightley had come to an understanding of the Eltons. His praise of Harriet was also welcomed. The rudeness of the Eltons had actually invited in a moment that gave Emma utter satisfaction. Harriet was suddenly able to see that Mr. Elton was not the man she thought he was. Her infatuation was over, and Emma was not afraid of it returning. She did not expect to see Frank that day, and she was not sorry for it. However, he turns up with Harriet on his arm. She is pale and faints in the hall. After a few moments, Emma discovered why she had fainted. Harriet and Miss Bickerton, who worked alongside Mrs. Goddard, had walked together and come across gypsies. A child came towards them to beg for money and Miss Bickerton screamed and ran up a steep hill to take a short cut back to Highbury. Harriet could not follow because she was still sore from dancing. Harriet was approached by half a dozen children. She gave them a shilling and asked them not to beg for anything else. She was then able to walk, but was still surrounded by the children who demanded more from her.
Frank had found her in this way and assisted her. The group were frightened by Frank and Harriet clung to him, unable to speak, and weak. He did not know where else to take her but Hartfield. Emma assured him she would take good care of him, and then he left to carry out the errands he had been meaning to complete. She would also write to Mr. Knightley about the gypsies being in the neighbourhood. Emma wondered who could have failed to see what she saw in this adventure—her imagination was on fire concerning the possible match between Harriet and Frank.
Emma wanted to keep this news from her father but within half hour the entirety of Highbury knew the story. Mr. Woodhouse discovered the news and made them promise not to go beyond the grounds again. The gypsies took off and left Highbury, and the importance of the event dwindled in people’s minds. All, that is, except for little Henry and John who continued to ask Emma to tell the story of Harriet and the gypsies.
A few days passed. Harriet visited Emma one morning with a small parcel in her hand. She admitted she had something to confess. Harriet admits that she sees nothing extraordinary in Mr. Elton now and does not care if she meets him or not. She would rather not see him, but she does not envy his wife anymore. She has brought items she wishes she had destroyed before so that she can do so in front of Emma. They are not gifts from him, but they are things she has treasured.
She shows Emma a piece of court-plaster (bandages) which she given to Mr. Elton when he cut himself on Emma’s new penknife. Emma had denied she had had any on her when it had happened, but she admits to Harriet that it was another one of her tricks. She wanted Harriet to be the one to help Mr. Elton. Emma is ashamed by the memory. She then shows him a blunted pencil which he had left on the table when he discovered there was no more lead in it. Harriet took it for herself. Harriet has nothing more to show Emma and resolves to throw the items in the fire, even if the plaster could be useful in the future. She does not want to look at them anymore. Harriet resolves that this is the end of Mr. Elton. Emma wondered when the beginning of Frank would come.
One day, when advising Harriet of what she should do when she gets married, Harriet announces that she will never marry. Emma is surprised by this change of heart and hopes it is not because of Mr. Elton. Harriet denies that it is. Emma wondered if she should push for more information because it might have hurt her, but decides it would be safer to know what is happening. She asks Harriet directly if her decision not to marry stems from her love for someone who is far superior to her and would probably never think of her. Harriet admits it is. Emma is not surprised considering the aid he gave her. Harriet admits when she saw him coming she changed from misery to happiness. Emma thinks it is natural and honourable to feel so well. She does not encourage Harriet to think she will be asked, but does not think she should throw her feelings away. She should watch him and let his behaviour to her be her guide. Emma will not speak to her again about this because she is determined to not influence her. She does not even want to know the name of the person, but knows it is Frank. Harriet kisses her hand in gratitude and Emma thinks that the attachment would be a good thing for Harriet and raise her in society.
June came to Highbury, but not much change occurred. Jane delayed her return to the Campbells by a couple of more months. That is, if she managed to avoid Mrs. Elton finding a job for her by then. Mr. Knightley, who had taken a dislike to Frank from the outset, had started to dislike him even more. He thought there was something going on. While he seemed to be doting on Emma and fixing on her as his possible partner, Mr. Knightley suspected that he had an understanding with Jane. He thought that they both admired one another. He had seen them give looks to one another which seemed out of place and suggested a secret understanding.
Mr. Knightley walked with Emma and Harriet one day and joined with Mr. and Mrs. Weston, Frank, Miss Bates and Jane who all then decided to go back to Hartfield to take tea. Everyone agreed to it. As they approached the house, Mr. Perry passed them, and Frank asked Mrs. Weston about Mr. Perry’s carriage. Mrs. Weston does not know what he is talking about, and Frank insists that she wrote to him about it. Mrs. Weston denies talking to him about Mr. Perry buying a carriage. Frank concludes he must have been dreaming about Highbury, as he often does. Mr. Weston turned to ask Emma if she was as a great a dreamer as Frank, but she had gone ahead and was already out of hearing. Miss Bates does remember, however, that there was talk of Mr. Perry buying a carriage but that the conversation was a secret one and had gone on at the Bates house. Jane was present. Mr. Knightley suspected that Frank was trying to catch Jane’s eye and watched them closely as they entered the hall.
Frank asked Emma if her nephews had put away their box of letters. He would like to play with puzzles. They started to form words for one another. Frank placed a word down for Jane and she looked at it to figure out what it was. Mr. Knightley tried to see what the word was, but could not before Jane figured it out and pushed it away. It was not mixed in with the rest of the words and Harriet looked at it to try and figure out what it was. The word was “blunder”, and Jane blushed when it was figured out. Mr. Knightley decided that there was a definite connection between Jane and Frank and continued to observe them. Frank placed a word down for Emma and on figuring out chastises him and sends it over to Jane. The word is “Dixon”. Jane looks away in disgust and blushed. She pushed away the words angrily and turned to her Aunt who immediately decided they should leave. As Jane stood, others stood with her and Mr. Knightley saw that Frank had pushed another collection of letters toward Jane.
Mr. Knightley remained at Hartfield after the rest had left and decided he would ask Emma what the last word meant. Emma brushed it away, but Mr. Knightley hoped she would tell him. However, he owed it to Emma to step in. He asked her if she understood the nature of the relationship between Frank and Jane. Mr. Knightley admits he has frequently seen looks that suggested an attachment between them. Emma was pleased that Mr. Knightley’s imagination was wandering, but Emma did not believe there was any attachment between them. She explains that there is a different set of circumstances that have led to these looks, but not for admiration. She knows that Frank is not attracted to her. This confidence in her answer silenced Mr. Knightley. Although Emma wanted to continue talking about what Mr. Knightley had seen, he was too agitated to continue and left.
Mrs. Elton was disappointed to hear that her brother-in-law and sister, Mr and Mrs. Suckling, would not be able to visit until the Autumn. It meant the delay of pleasure and of parading them around to feel her own self importance, but she was convinced with a little persuasion to explore the area around Highbury herself and not to wait for the Sucklings. She decided to go to Box Hill. Emma had never been to Box Hill before, and the Westons decided that they would go with her. She was upset to hear that Mr. Weston had proposed to Mrs. Elton that they go as one company of people. To save Mr. Weston’s feelings, Emma agreed to it even if it meant feeling the degradation of being part of Mrs. Elton’s party. While they were looking to fix the date, a horse was suddenly lame, and they did not know when the horse would be useful to them again. Mr. Knightley suggested that they should come to Donwell and eat the strawberries in his field. They would not need horses to explore Donwell. While Mrs. Elton wants to plan the party herself and invite those she would like to be there, Mr. Knightley is firm with her. Only one person could dictate to him who would be invited to Donwell and that it is the non-existent Mrs. Knightley. Mrs. Elton thought he had great humour and complimented him on it. She suggested the way that the party should be arranged, and Mr. Knightley refused to let her dictate to him, especially because he wanted to make sure Mr. Woodhouse would attend. Mr. Woodhouse would attend, as would Harriet and Emma, the Westons, the Eltons and Frank. The lame horse recovered quite quickly, so Donwell was decided for one day, and Box Hill for the following.
As soon as Emma made sure her father was sat in comfort, Emma decided to explore Donwell as it had been some time since she had been there. She enjoys the grounds and the house and respected everything she saw. Frank had yet to arrive. Mrs. Elton led them through the garden, talking loudly about the fruit. Mrs. Weston was worried about Frank. After the tour around the garden, Emma sat down in the shade and overheard Mrs. Elton and Jane talking about a governess position Mrs. Elton has managed to hear about. While Mrs. Elton wanted to establish Jane there immediately, Jane continued to protest and would not take a position until she wanted to take one. Emma felt sorry for Jane, who had to repeat herself over and over, until Jane asked Mr. Knightley to show them the entire garden.
As they walked around the garden, Mr. Knightley and Harriet walked together talking. Emma was pleased to see them together, even if it was an unusual sight. With the tour around the gardens over, they went inside the house to eat. Frank had still not arrived. Mr. Weston would not admit to his anxiety, but Mrs. Weston continued to look, worried about his horse. Mr. Weston suggested that Mrs. Churchill might have taken ill. After they had eaten, Emma opted to stay behind with her father while the rest continued to walk. It gave Mrs. Weston a break. Mr. Knightley had been kind to her father and made sure that he had endless things to distract him with. After Emma and Mr. Woodhouse looked them over together, she stepped into the hall for a moment of peace. Jane came up to her from the garden and asked her to give her apologies. She was determined to leave immediately but did not want to say anything to anyone. Emma agreed to give her goodbyes, but was not at ease with Jane walking back to Highbury by herself. Jane begs her to let her go—she wants her own way. Emma could not oppose that. Before she left, Jane exclaimed that she was comforted by solitude sometimes, and Emma felt sorry that she had to deal with so many tiresome people.
Jane had not been gone fifteen minutes when Frank stepped into the room. Mrs. Churchill had delayed him with a seizure which had lasted hours. He had come in the heat and looked worse for wear. He had an angry temper which Emma guessed was brought on by the heat. Once he had cooled down, his manners returned and was able to engage them in conversation. They were looking at pictures of Switzerland. Frank announces that he will go abroad as soon as his Aunt is well. Emma does not believe his Aunt and Uncle will ever let him leave England. Frank thinks that they will come with him as his Aunt is meant to stick to a warmer climate. He is tired of doing nothing and is sick of England. Emma asks him to come with them to Box Hill the next day—it might not be Switzerland, but it will be a change from the regular pace of life. Frank does not want to—he will leave Donwell that evening and not return. He worries about being angry and spoiling the mood, but he will be angry if they are all at Box Hill without him. Emma tells him to decide for himself.
As everyone parted, Frank expressed his decision to stay and go with them to Box Hill the following day.
The weather was good for their visit to Box Hill, and it was generally agreed and expected that they would have a nice party. However, the party split up—the Eltons walked together, Mr. Knightley with Miss Bates and Jane, and Emma and Harriet with Frank. Mr. Weston tried to bring them all together, but it never quite happened. The Eltons did not want to be friendly. Emma was bored. Frank was silent, and when he did speak said nothing worth hearing. Harriet was the same, and Emma was tired of them both. When they sat down, Frank became more talkative and made sure to amuse Emma. Although they flirted, Emma only did this because she was disappointed by the party and only thought of him as her friend. Frank thanks her for persuading him to come to Box Hill. Emma mentions his temper the previous day, which Frank does not really understand. He was hot, not angry. Emma suggests that he was not himself, and now he is back under control. Frank suggests that she means her control, but Emma insists that they are not together all the time. It can only be his control. Frank questions this logic—they’ve been together since February. Emma suggests that he stop talking in this way as the rest of the party can hear them. Frank is not ashamed by what he has to say. He decides they should get the rest of the people to talk and pretends that Emma has asked him to order them to tell her what she is thinking about. Mr. Knightley asks if Emma seriously wants to know, and she denies it. She really does not want to know what they have to think. Mrs. Elton takes Frank’s interest in Emma as an insult—she thinks of herself as the Chaperone and organizer of the party, not Emma.
Frank decides to push for further conversation by asking for one clever thing, two moderately clever or three dull things from each person. Miss Bates decides to aim for three dull things, and Emma teases her by telling her she has to keep to the certain number. Miss Bates blushed when she understood the insult and confided in Mr. Knightley that she did not know what she had done to be treated so poorly. Mr. Weston asks Emma what two letters of the alphabet express perfection. He tells them that these are M and A—Em and Ma. While Emma and a few others are entertained by this, Mr. Knightley looked quite sad—no one would be able to combat Mr. Weston’s entertainment. Mrs. Elton does not even approve of the game itself—she believes it is more suited to Christmas around the fire. She tells Frank to pass herself, Mr. Elton, Knightley and Jane as they have nothing to say. Mr. Elton agrees—there is nothing that can entertain a young lady when it comes from an old married man. The Eltons leave for a walk. Frank comments that having known each other for only a few weeks in Bath, they are particularly suited. He goes on to say that it is difficult to know a woman until they are seen within their own homes and neighbourhoods. It is often that a man has committed to a woman after a short friendship and done poorly. Jane admits that it happens, but not as often as Frank suggests. There would be time to recover from it afterwards. Frank does not think he has good judgement and suggests he will have to have his future bride chosen for him. He asks if Emma would choose a wife for him, take her under her wing and make her like herself. Frank will go abroad for a few years and then return for his wife. She secretly thought that it was Harriet whom Frank suggested she should make more like herself.
After another walk, the party waited for their carriages. Mr. Knightley found a moment to speak to Emma quietly and asked why she was so unkind to Miss Bates. Emma laughed it off and suggested Miss Bates did not understand her. Mr. Knightley assured her she understood and has talked of nothing since. She was generous to Emma in her discussions. Emma thought she was a good person, but a ridiculous one. Mr. Knightley does not disagree with this, but implores Emma to think. Miss Bates is poor, and her situation in life should secure Emma’s compassion. To laugh at her and humble her in front of her niece and others who might be guided by Emma’s treatment of her was in poor show. Emma has never felt so ashamed and upset in her entire life. She could not disagree with anything Mr. Knightley had said, and did not know how she could have been so cruel to Miss Bates. Emma cried all the way home.
Emma looked back on Box Hill as a morning not well spent. She imagined that the others would be having their own particular opinions about the morning themselves. She spent the evening playing games with her father, which was time well spent and a pleasure to her. She was giving up her hours to the comfort of her father, and hoped that she was not without heart in their relationship. Emma hoped that Miss Bates would forgive her. She would visit her the next morning and attempt to start up a more equal and kinder friendship.
The following morning she went early to stop anything from preventing her. She would not be ashamed by going. When she arrived there was a rush to move Jane, who Emma caught a glimpse of and thought she looked quite sick. Mrs. Bates admitted that Jane was quite unwell, but they would only tell her otherwise. Miss Bates stepped into the room, and although she greeted Emma with her usual cheerfulness, Emma could tell there was a lack of feeling in it. She asked after Jane, which Emma hoped would lead them to their old ways. Miss Bates reveals that a position has been found for Jane which she has accepted. Jane is depressed by it, and Miss Bates sent her to bed. Jane did not want to see anyone, but she was sorry to miss Emma. Emma was terribly sorry for Jane—she had grown interested in her lately because of her increasing kindness to Jane, and she understood Jane’s wish to not see anyone. Miss Bates said, then, that Emma was always too kind, and Emma could not stand it. She asked where Jane would be going. She is off to Mrs. Smallridge’s, which is only four miles away from Maple Grove. Emma understood that Mrs. Elton had been the one to arrange it all. Miss Bates revealed that Mrs. Elton would not take a single one of Jane’s objections and did not write her denial to Mrs. Smallridge. The previous evening, Jane had taken Mrs. Elton aside and announced that she had decided to accept. Emma asked if she spent the entire evening with the Eltons—Miss Bates admitted she had been invited back with everyone else at Box Hill. Mr. Knightley refused to go, but Miss Bates, Jane and Mrs. Bates all attended. Emma suggested that Jane had been trying to make up her mind the entire day. Miss Bates agreed. Emma asked when Jane was set to leave. She would leave within two weeks as Mrs. Smallridge is in a hurry for a governess. Miss Bates reveals that Mr. Elton had heard a carriage was sent to Randalls to take Frank to Richmond. Emma did not have a chance to say that she had not heard this news, but as Miss Bates did not know anything else, it wasn’t important to say so. Frank had received a letter from Mr. Churchill telling his nephew not to rush back as Mrs. Churchill was doing fairly well, but Frank decided to go home immediately. Emma did not know what to think about this sudden change in behaviour and kept quiet until Miss Bates thought she was thinking of the pianoforte. Jane will leave it behind until Colonel Campbell comes back and deals with it himself. The discussion of the pianoforte only reminded Emma of her past tricks and amusements until she decided she had to leave. Emma gave her good wishes and then left.
On returning to Hartfield, Emma found Mr. Knightley and Harriet had arrived and were sitting with Mr. Woodhouse. Mr. Knightley immediately stood and said goodbye. He was going to London to spend time with John and Isabella. Emma did not think Mr. Knightley had forgiven her as he was not acting like himself. She thought with time they would return to normal. Mr. Woodhouse asked after Emma’s visit to the Bates’ and thinks that she was kind to them. Emma blushed and shook her head. Mr. Knightley looked at her then with respect, and Emma was grateful for it. Mr. Knightley took her hand and was about to carry it to his lips when he suddenly dropped it. Emma did not know what made him change his mind. He then left.
Emma wished she had left the Bates house ten minutes earlier so that she could have discussed Jane’s news and situation with Mr. Knightley. She also would have preferred having more notice of Mr. Knightley’s journey. She distracted her father from worrying about Mr. Knightley on horseback with news of Jane’s position. Mr. Woodhouse was darned glad she had a job.
The following day, they received news that Mrs. Churchill had died. Although Frank had not had need to hurry back, she had not lasted more than 36 hours after he returned. Of course, everyone felt sorry that she had died despite being disliked for 25 years. Now that she had died, everyone admitted that she must have been quite ill after all. Emma wondered how this might affect Frank—how it would free him. He could now marry Harriet without any issues, but Emma was not certain that the attachment would be formed. Harriet behaved herself—if she had any brighter hopes, she did not reveal them. Emma was pleased that she was much stronger in character now than she had been. Randalls received short letters from Frank detailing the plans they had. After the funeral, Mr. Churchill and Frank would go to a friend’s house in Windsor.
Emma found her concerns moving from Harriet to Jane, who Emma wanted to show kindness to. She regretted her coldness to Jane in the past and wanted to be useful to her. She wrote a letter inviting Jane to Hartfield for a day, but Jane did not reply. Mr. Perry relayed a verbal message to them that Jane was too unwell to write. He doubted that she would be able to leave for Mrs. Smallridge’s when she was meant to do so as her health was bad. Mr. Perry was worried about Jane’s current living conditions with her tiresome family and the single room. Emma sent her another note to offer to call on Jane whenever she wanted to take some exercise. Emma received a note telling her that Jane was not able to exercise. Emma felt she deserved a little more than this short statement, but could not feel that bad about it. She ordered the carriage and went down to the Bates house to see if Jane could be enticed outside, but Miss Bates came to the door and admitted she had tried, but Jane would not come out, and would not accept any visitors. Mrs. Elton, Mrs. Cole and Mr. Perry had all forced their way in and had visited, but Emma did not want to be compared with them. She only asked Miss Bates if she might be able to help with Jane’s appetite.
Emma returned to Hartfield and asked for some arrow-root to be sent to Miss Bates for Jane. It was returned half hour later with a note explaining that Jane did not want anything. Emma heard that that afternoon Jane had been walking in the meadows. This was more than enough evidence that Jane did not want Emma’s help at all. She was sorry for this and felt powerless. The only consoling feeling was that she knew her intentions were good ones, and at least Mr. Knightley would have been proud of her.
One morning Emma was called downstairs by Mr. Weston who needed to talk to her immediately. Mrs. Weston needed to see her and wanted her to come to Randalls alone. Emma pushed for more information as to what was wrong, but Mr. Weston assured her she would know in time. After checking in with Mr. Woodhouse, she left with Mr. Weston. Emma demanded to know what was happening and was terrified that something bad had happened to someone they know. Mr. Weston will not tell her, but assures her it is nothing connected with anyone named Knightley. He reveals that Frank had visited that morning and was on his way to Windsor—Emma would not be able to see him.
Once she arrived, Mr. Weston left the two women by themselves. Emma was anxious as Mrs. Weston looked ill. Mrs. Weston wondered if Emma had any idea who the news concerned. Emma guessed it had to do with Frank, and she is correct. He came to Randalls that morning to announce his engagement to Jane Fairfax and to reveal he had been engaged to her for a long time. Emma was surprised by the news, but Mrs. Weston assured her it was the truth. They had been engaged since they spent time together at Weymouth and had kept it a secret from everyone. Mrs. Weston thought she knew him. Emma thought about her previous conversations with Jane, and also about poor Harriet. Mrs. Weston admits it has hurt them both. Emma thought for a moment and then told her that he had not revealed his intentions toward Emma, if that was what they were afraid of. There was, she admitted, a small amount of time where she was interested in him, but this left her after a moment. She cares nothing for him. Mrs. Weston is struck with joy immediately—she is relieved. They had hoped that Emma and Frank would be engaged and were upset to think what Emma would feel when she heard the news. However, Emma agrees that Frank’s behaviour could not be excused. He came to Highbury and endeavoured to please Emma—how would he know if Emma had fallen in love with him or not. She did not know how Jane stomached Frank’s behaviour either. She could not respect him for that. Mrs. Weston admitted that there had been some misunderstandings between them because of Frank’s behaviour. Emma suddenly remembers that Jane is meant to go to Mrs. Smallridge’s. Mrs. Weston assures her Frank had no idea that Jane had agreed to go. The discovery of this decision is what forced him to come forward and announce the engagement. He promised before he left, to write to Mrs. Weston and to detail everything that had happened, which may excuse some of his past behaviour. She asks for Emma’s patience.
Emma wondered if the Dixons or Campbells knew of the engagement. Frank told her that only they knew about their agreement. Although Emma hopes they will be happy, she will not be able to forgive Frank for his deceit. Mr. Weston appeared, then, and Emma congratulated him on the news. He realized that everything was fine with Emma. He was happy immediately. When he walked her back to Hartfield, he even admitted that it was probably one of the best things Frank could have done.
Emma was sorry to think of poor Harriet, and could not stop thinking about her. She could not forgive Frank for his behaviour, and she could also not forgive herself. To find Harriet deceived a second time because of her own misconceptions was a horrid business. She believed in what Mr. Knightley had said when he told her she was no friend to Harriet. Although she had not constructed and built up Harriet’s love as she did in the first instance, she should have repressed Harriet’s interest in Frank when she first admitted to it.
When Emma heard Harriet’s footsteps coming she was as anxious about them as she imagined Mrs. Weston had been when Emma was approaching Randalls. Harriet had already heard the news from Mr. Weston and thought it was odd news. Harriet was not upset or disappointed. Emma did not know what to say to her. Harriet wondered if Emma knew about the engagement, or their being in love, and decides that she must have as she usually knows what is going on. Emma cannot imagine why she would encourage Harriet in her feelings if she knew Frank was in love with Jane. Harriet did not understand—she was not in love with Frank. Emma did not understand. Harriet was upset that she had been misunderstood—how could Emma have thought she meant Frank when there were more superior people to look at. Emma then wondered if it was Mr. Knightley who she was in love with. Harriet is—she thought she had been as clear as possible. Emma admitted that everything Harriet had said seemed to point to Frank after she had been rescued from the gypsies. Harriet suddenly realizes that what she said could have been interpreted in two ways—she had meant that Mr. Knightley had done her a great service and made her happy. Although Emma cannot speak, Harriet asserts that crazier engagements had taken place, and that if Mr. Knightley certainly did want to marry her Emma should not get in her way. Emma wondered if she had received any hint as to Mr. Knightley’s affection and Harriet asserted she had. Emma wondered to herself why it was worse for Harriet to be in love with Mr. Knightley than with Frank. She suddenly realized that she did not want anyone else to marry Mr. Knightley but herself.
She also saw how inconsiderately she had treated Harriet and then asked her for proof of Mr. Knightley’s affection for her. From the time they had danced together, Mr. Knightley had spoken more to her in kindness, and wanted to be acquainted with her. Emma had observed this. He praised Harriet for having gentle and honest feelings, which Emma had heard herself. Some others Emma did not believe were exact pieces of evidence for Mr. Knightley’s feelings. When they were at Donwell, Mr. Knightley had drawn her away from the crowd and appeared to be asking her if her affections were engaged. When Emma had joined them, he had changed the subject. When Mr. Knightley had decided to leave for London, he had confided in Harriet that he would rather not have gone, which was much more than he had said to Emma. Emma wondered if he was actually trying to figure out if Harriet was still in love with Mr. Martin. Harriet denies it—she knows not to care for Mr. Martin now, or to be suspected of loving him. Harriet thanked Emma for her good advice—she was told to observe his behaviour for evidence of his feelings for her, which she had done. Harriet feels that she deserves him. On hearing Mr. Woodhouse’s footsteps, Harriet excused herself. She was much too agitated to be near him. Emma wished she had never set eyes on her before.
Emma tried to sort through her feelings and everything that had happened in the last day. Her first aim was to understand her own heart. She wondered when she had considered him so dear to her. There had not been any time when she had not loved Mr. Knightley, and figured out that she had never truly loved Frank at all. It did not take her long to figure this out, and she was ashamed of all of her feelings except for her love for Mr. Knightley. She had been mistaken at every turn where other people’s feelings were concerned. She wished that she had never pushed Harriet forward and hoped that Mr. Knightley would not debase himself by marrying someone as common as her. She wished she had not persuaded her against marrying Mr. Martin and taken up company with the people she belonged to. If she had not done this, Harriet would not presume to think of Mr. Knightley as being in love with her. Emma had taught her this. Harriet had lost her sense of humility because of Emma.
Only now that she was threatened by the loss of it was Emma aware how much of her happiness depended on being considered first by Mr. Knightley. She had been first in his estimation for a long time and had taken it for granted. She had not deserved it, either, but he had loved her since she was a child. While Harriet was convinced of Mr. Knightley’s affection for her, Emma doubted that Mr. Knightley felt love for Emma. He had been so shocked by her treatment of Miss Bates. She could not deceive herself as she hoped Harriet was doing. If Mr. Knightley never married at all, Emma would be satisfied. She wanted him to continue on in the same way that they had been if Mr. Knightley would not marry her. She did not believe she would marry even if Mr. Knightley asked her. It would remove her from her father and she owed him her care.
Emma hoped that the next time she saw Harriet and Mr. Knightley together that she would be able to figure out what the chances of Harriet being disappointed were. She decided not to see Harriet as it would do neither of them any good. She wrote to her and asked her not to come to Hartfield so that they could avoid conversation of the topic they should avoid. They could meet if there were a group of people around, but only if they acted as if they had not talked about Mr. Knightley. Harriet approved.
Mrs. Weston stopped by Hartfield after visiting the Bates house even though she had not wanted to until everything was settled with Frank. Mr. Weston persuaded her into going. Jane had hardly spoken a word, and she was visibly suffering. Mrs. Weston asked Jane to come with her for a drive in the carriage, during which Mrs. Weston was able to break through some of Jane’s embarrassment and ask her about Frank. They talked a lot about the past and future possibility of the engagement, and Mrs. Weston was sure this was helpful to Jane. Jane blames herself for the engagement and dreads Colonel Campbell hearing about it. It was her love for Frank that overthrew her reason and logic as she had not been brought up to act as she had done so. Emma was afraid that she had caused Jane suffering, but Mrs. Weston knew she did not do it on purpose. Jane sends her many thanks for her continued interest and affection when she was sick. Emma wishes she could do more for her and wishes that she will be happy in marriage. Mrs. Weston reveals that she has not yet received the letter Frank promised he would send.
Emma keenly felt the shame associated with her past treatment of Jane. Had she sought a friend in Jane rather than in Harriet she might have been spared the pain she felt now. That night she thought of the end of Mr. Knightley’s visits to Hartfield which usually brought them happiness, especially on nights of bad weather. She looked ahead to the coming winter with regret—if everything happened as it might, she would lose most of her friends. Hartfield would be empty. When the Westons had a child, they would not see them often. Frank and Jane would cease to belong to Highbury. Mr. Knightley would no longer visit Hartfield at nights. If Mr. Knightley was to marry Harriet, it would double Emma’s pain for she would be well aware that it was her own doing. The only peaceful thought Emma had was that she might act better in the future and find a more rational self. Hopefully she would regret her actions far less in this instance.
With the change in the weather for the better, Emma decides to go outside as much as possible. She goes for a walk around the gardens. Mr. Knightley comes out into the garden to join her, which surprises her for she thought he was still in London. They exchanged general comments, and Emma asked after John and Isabella. She thought he seemed quite serious, and considered he might have told his brother about his plan to marry Harriet and had not received a good response. She also considered he might be trying to build his courage—he might be about to tell her about his engagement to Harriet. Emma could not encourage the subject—he had to do this by himself. Emma starts to tell him about Jane and Frank’s engagement, but Mr. Knightley has already heard of it. Mr. Weston told him. Emma was relieved the news had not come from Mrs Goddard or Harriet. Emma remembered that Mr. Knightley had once tried to warn her, but admits she is probably doomed to be blind. Mr. Knightley tells her that time will heal her wound, but Emma insists he is mistaken. Although she said things that made her ashamed, she has no other reason to regret Frank and Jane’s engagement. Mr. Knightley is overjoyed. She had been tempted by his attentions and allowed herself to seem pleased, but she has never been attached to him. She does not understand his behaviour as he never intended to be attached to her. Mr. Knightley had never had a high opinion of Frank but for Jane’s sake he wished them both well. Emma thinks they are mutually attracted and should be happy. Mr. Knightley is jealous of Frank’s engagement to Jane and that despite his behaviour everyone has forgiven him.
Emma refuses to ask why Mr. Knightley is jealous of Frank, and as he starts to explain, Emma tells him not to say anything. She changes her mind and tells him that if he has anything to say, he should say it. She is his friend and will tell him exactly what she thinks of what he has to say. Mr. Knightley wondered if he would ever succeed with her. Mr. Knightley admits that he could not love her more. Emma could not think—she saw that Harriet’s hopes had been mistaken and that she was pleased she had not revealed Harriet’s secret. He admits he had not aimed at asking her to marry him, but was so delighted in her indifference toward Frank that he could not help but hope. Both of them had changed in mood to a state of happiness. It had been Mr. Knightley’s jealousy that had sent him away from Box Hill and to London. However, the domestic bliss of his brother and Isabella had not given him peace but had reminded him of Emma. The news of Jane and Frank’s engagement gave him hope, then, and he had ridden home in the rain to find out how Emma felt about the news. By the time they went into the house, they were engaged to be married.
Emma was surprised by the change in her feelings in such a short space of time. Mr. Woodhouse did not suspect what was going on between them. Emma decided that night that while her father still lived, her engagement to Mr. Knightley would remain just that. She could not leave him. She would also try to spare Harriet as much pain as she could, but did not know how. She would avoid a meeting with her and then send her a letter to explain everything that had happened. It would be desirable for Harriet to leave Highbury for a while and Emma decided that she should go to Brunswick Square.
The next morning Emma wrote her letter to Harriet but was interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Knightley who sent her into happiness again. When he left, and before Emma could get back to her letter, she received a letter from Randalls which contained Frank’s letter to Mrs. Weston. It details his need to keep the engagement a secret because of the situation at Enscombe. If he had not been engaged to Jane, he would have gone mad. Frank then discusses his treatment of Emma. He pretended to feel more for Emma than he did, but would not have done so had he not been convinced that she did not feel anything for him. It appeared as if they understood one another, and that suited Frank. When he came to Hartfield and was about to tell her the truth, he felt Emma had figured out a part or the whole of his secret. Emma frequently hinted at her knowledge, such as when she insisted he owed Mrs. Elton gratitude for the way Jane was treated. The pianoforte had come from Frank and had Jane known about it she would not have allowed it to be sent to her. He explains that he and Jane argued the morning of the Donwell party and that it chiefly concerned Frank’s behaviour towards Emma. Frank regretted how much pain he had caused Jane, and left for Richmond, convinced that she had grown cold towards him. Jane sent him a letter to break off the engagement, but he received it the morning his Aunt had died and had not had time to send a reply. He received a parcel at Windsor, which contained all of his letters to her and a small note from Jane to express her surprise that she had not received a reply. She encouraged him to send her letters to him to Mrs. Smallridge’s where she would be governess. Frank was angry with himself for his mistakes and regretted how ill he had made her. They managed to reconcile their feelings and save the engagement, and Frank is sure nothing will ever come between them again. He thanks Mrs. Weston for her kindness and hopes that she will be able to forgive him.
Although Emma felt Frank had been wrong on several accounts, he had done it because he was so in love with Jane. She forgave him for his conduct. She thought the letter was so good that when Mr. Knightley returned, she asked him to read it. Although Mr. Knightley thought the letter was long, he had to read it then and there as Emma had to return it to Mr. Weston that evening. Mr. Knightley gives his opinion as he reads the letter. At first he does not seem to care much for Frank’s words, but when he reaches the point where Frank regrets his behaviour, Mr. Knightley agrees and is impressed with his admission. Emma does not think he is as satisfied with the letter as she is, but Mr. Knightley thinks a little better of him, especially as he is very much in love with Jane.
Mr. Knightley changes the subject, then. He has been thinking of how to ask her to marry him without harming her father. Emma announced that she could never leave her father while he was still alive. He had hoped to entice Mr. Woodhouse to move to Donwell with her, but he suggested instead that he should move to Hartfield so that neither of them would have to leave. This theory had not occurred to Emma, who felt Mr. Knightley would be sacrificing a great deal by leaving Donwell and his own habits. The more Emma thought of the plan, however, the more she liked it. She would have been even happier had it not been for her thoughts about Harriet. Mr. Knightley would be forgotten by her eventually, but he would not be able to help her along with his considerate nature.
Emma was pleased to discover Harriet wanted to avoid a meeting, as well. There was a resentment to her letter despite her good natured response, and this only increased Emma’s desire for them to be separated. She managed to acquire an invitation to Brunswick for Harriet. Harriet had wanted to see a dentist for a while, so it was fortunate that she would be off to London. Isabella was keen to help anyone with their health, and was eager to have Harriet in her care. Harriet was to go for at least a fortnight. Now Emma could enjoy Mr. Knightley’s visits and be truly happy without feeling guilty. She still had to admit to her engagement to her father, but she did not want to do this until Mrs. Weston had given birth and was well.
Emma decided to call on Jane and see how she was doing. That she was also secretly interested in what was happening, was an additional benefit to the visit. She had not been in the house since the morning after Box Hill, and the fear of still being unwelcomed by Jane was in Emma’s thoughts as she was driven down there. Jane met her on the stairs, and Emma had never seen her look so lovely. Jane offered her hand and expressed her thanks for Emma’s kindness. Whereas Miss Bates was out, Mrs. Elton was in. Emma wished Mrs. Elton had not been present either, but decided she would have to have patience. Mrs. Elton folded up a letter and smiled with the knowledge of a secret she was keeping between herself and Jane. That everyone else knew the secret was not apparent to Mrs. Elton. She told Jane that Mrs. S. had accepted their apology and was not offended by Jane’s inability to become the governess at her house. Although Mrs. Elton had not named names, Emma knew exactly what she was talking about. After praising Mr. Perry’s efforts in returning Jane to her former healthier state, Mrs. Elton whispered that she would not mention the Doctor from Windsor who had helped.
Jane asked Emma if she would be willing to attend Box Hill again with the same visitors to try and recreate a happier memory there. Miss Bates stepped in then and did not know what to say—she was trying to keep the engagement a secret, and failing miserably. Mrs. Elton is waiting for her husband to finish a meeting at the Crown with Mr. Knightley, but Emma is sure the meeting was not supposed to be until the next day. Mrs. Elton denies mistaking the day—she believes that the parish at Highbury is troublesome and that they never had these problems at Maple Grove. Jane suggests this is because it was small. Mrs. Elton had never heard such a thing. Jane suggests that it should be small considering the size of the school which Mrs. Elton had previously mentioned. Mrs. Elton compliments her on her intelligence.
Mr. Elton arrived then and was sorry to have missed Mr. Knightley at Donwell for their meeting. He could not find him even though he had sent him a letter asking him if he would be home that day. Mrs. Elton corrects him—surely he means at the Crown. Mr. Elton tells her this is a different meeting, and that no one at Donwell had expected him. Emma had no explanations to give. Mrs. Elton could not believe that Mr. Knightley would do this to him—a man who should have been the last person to have been forgotten. Mrs. Elton blames Mr. Knightley’s servants for forgetting. Emma decided to leave then, as she assumed Mr. Knightley would be waiting for her at Hartfield. Jane took his moment to walk with her down the stairs. Emma tells her she would have talked about the engagement but did not want to be impolite. Jane is grateful for her interest and starts to give her apologies for being ungrateful. Emma refuses to hear them—Jane owes her nothing. Both of them apologize for their reserved and cold nature toward one another. Jane reveals she will be living with Mr. Churchill at Enscombe in three months time after the mourning period is over. Emma wishes her well and expresses her love for things that are out in the open.
Mrs. Weston safely gives birth to a little girl. Emma refused her initial desire to make a match between the girl and one of Isabella’s sons, but was glad the Westons had a girl. It seemed to suit them. Mr. Knightley is sure that Mrs. Weston will dote on and spoil the girl as much as she did for Emma. Emma jokingly wonders what will become of her. Mr. Knightley assures her she will correct herself as she grows older. Emma believes it was because of Mr. Knightley’s help that she corrected herself, but he believes he did her more harm than good. They remember their past—how challenging Emma had been, and how she had always called him Mr. Knightley. Mr. Knightley wondered if she would not call him George, instead. Emma cannot. She will call him George, but she cannot say when out loud—only when “N. takes M.”, i.e. when they marry. Emma wishes that she could talk to Mr. Knightley about Harriet and wondered why he did not comment on their waning friendship. Isabella had sent letters to Emma to keep her informed about Harriet. She had been quite depressed when she had arrived, but Isabella explained this away because of her impending visit to the dentist. After that, she had become her old self again. Emma was pleased to hear that Harriet would be staying for a month instead of just two weeks. Isabella and John would return with her in August.
John had sent Mr. Knightley a letter congratulating him and Emma on the engagement. Emma believes he has suggested that she will, in time, grow worthy of Mr. Knightley’s love. They both consider that they had hoped their family would see the engagement as equal on both sides. John admits he had an idea that his brother was in love with Emma and was not surprised to hear about the engagement. Emma thinks he was not so aware of who his feelings were for. Now that Mrs. Weston was able to receive visitors, Emma had to announce her engagement to Mr. Woodhouse. She did not know how she would do it, but she had to. She made sure to speak cheerfully so that Mr. Woodhouse would not be upset. It was a shock to him, at first, especially as Emma had always said she would never marry. She insisted that it would not be like Mrs. Weston and Isabella because Emma would not leave Hartfield. She knew he loved Mr. Knightley a lot—he was useful and cheerful. The worst of it was done, and their acquaintances and friends helped persuade Mr. Woodhouse that the engagement was a good thing. Eventually, he believed it would be a happy occasion, and that it might not be bad if they had the wedding in the next year or two. Mrs. Weston had been surprised, but was very happy for the announcement.
From here, the news spread. It was a generally approved match. Some disagreed as to where the couple should live, or who was the more fortunate of the couple, but on the whole there were no serious objections made aside from in the Vicarage. Mr. Elton did not care for it. Mrs. Elton felt sorry for Mr. Knightley and did not think he was in love with Emma at all.
The party from London was soon to arrive, and the news agitated Emma. Mr. Knightley came into the room and told her that Harriet Smith was engaged to Mr. Martin. Emma was surprised, but Mr. Knightley had heard the news from Mr. Martin himself. He is afraid that Emma does not like the news at all, as he feared, but suggests that time will bring her around. Emma exclaims that Mr. Knightley has mistaken her silence—she is just surprised he asked her again. It does not make her unhappy. Mr. Knightley reveals how it happened: Mr. Knightley asked Mr. Martin to deliver some papers to John and was asked to join a party which Harriet had attended. He then dined with them the following day and during this visit found an opportunity to ask Harriet. Mr. Knightley thought Mr. Martin was very happy. He knows that this engagement cannot bring Emma happiness, but in reality she is only trying to hide how happy she was. Emma admits that Harriet has done well, but is surprised as she had reason to believe Harriet was quite against him. Mr. Knightley did not think that Harriet could refuse a man who dearly loved her, and Emma had to laugh at this.
Mr. Knightley is surprised at how much Emma’s opinion has changed on this matter. Emma admits that she was a bit of a fool where it was concerned. Mr. Knightley admitted he has changed where his opinion of Harriet was concerned, too. He had made great efforts to talk to her and get to know her a bit better. He considered that Emma probably thought he was pleading Mr. Martin’s case, but he only wishes Harriet the best. She has excellent principles and good notions, which have secured her happiness. Mr. Knightley believes that Emma is to thank for this, and Emma cannot feel she deserves this praise.
There would now be pleasure and happiness in Harriet’s return, especially as it meant not having to hide anything from Mr. Knightley anymore. On visiting Randalls, they find that Frank and Jane are visiting. Emma and Frank meet for the first time in a long time. He thanks her for forgiving him, and Emma expresses her pleasure at being able to share in his joy for his engagement. They joke about their past tricks with the name Dixon, and Frank shares his surprise that Emma never suspected he and Jane were engaged. He wonders if Emma has pity for them not having met since the day they reestablished their engagement, and Emma does. Frank had endless compliments for the health Jane now had. Emma reminds him of the day he commented that he did not like her complexion. They laugh at this. Emma accuses him of being very amused by his trickery. Frank denies this—he was very depressed by it. Emma compares their behaviour—they are both prone to finding amusement in odd places. They are also to marry two people superior to them. Frank does not think Emma has a superior, but agrees on account of Jane. They are very pleased to have seen each other again. As Emma left Randalls, she was very pleased to have seen Frank again—not only because it meant their friendship was reestablished, but because she was now sure Mr. Knightley was the more superior of the two.
In a few days, Isabella, John and Harriet arrived from London. After an hour alone with Harriet, Emma was satisfied that he feelings for Mr. Knightley were gone and replaced for those for Mr. Martin. Harriet was a little ashamed for the past, but Emma had immediately soothed these feelings by congratulating her on her engagement. Harriet was then very pleased to give her all of the details of the engagement itself. It suggested to Emma that Harriet had always loved Mr. Martin.
They discovered Harriet’s origins: she was the daughter of a tradesman, not of a gentleman as Emma had sworn. Her low rank would have been a blight on a marriage to the Knightly, Churchill or Elton family. Emma accepted Mr. Martin at Hartfield and approved him as a good match for Harriet. Although Harriet would be among people she belonged with and who loved her, it would mean less visits to Hartfield. It was, Emma thought, for the best. Harriet was married to Mr. Martin before the end of September and were the first of the three couples to be so. Jane Fairfax had already left Highbury and had returned to live the Campbells. Frank and Mr. Churchill were in town, and the couple were waiting until November. Emma and Mr. Knightley had decided to have their marriage while John and Isabella were still at Hartfield so they could go away for two weeks to tour the seaside. Mr. Woodhouse was miserable when he heard of the plan, and Emma could not bear to see him suffering.
When Mrs. Weston’s turkeys were stolen one night, Mr. Woodhouse grew scared of Hartfield being broken into and wanted either John or Mr. Knightley to be at Hartfield to protect him. John had to be back in London by November, and so Emma was allowed to decide on the date for her wedding. The wedding itself is far too modest for Mrs. Elton, but all those present wished them well.
David takes charge of transporting Steerforth’s body back to London—Steerforth’s body was carried to the same cottage that currently housed Ham’s body, but once they got him there, it seemed wrong to the carriers to have him under the same roof, so they brought him to the inn. The body didn’t remain there long. Knowing he was the only one who could break the news to Steerforth’s mother, David wasted no time getting an appropriate means of transport from Joram’s, and he set out for London that night at around midnight. Even at that hour, contrary to expectation, groups of townspeople waited to watch them leave.
David arrives at the Steerforth home, which looks shut down—David arrived in Highgate the next day. Leaving the carriage driver with orders to wait for further instructions, he walked the rest of the way to the Steerforth home. The parlor maid who answered the door could see immediately that something was wrong. She asked David whether he was ill, but he replied that he was just tired and distraught. As he sat in the drawing room waiting for the maid to return from announcing his arrival, David noticed that the house had a dismal, shut-down look. The harp hadn’t been played in a while, and he learned from the maid that Mrs. Steerforth never left her room anymore. She had taken to living in her son’s room, probably out of loneliness over his absence.
Miss Dartle quickly loses her composure—After the usual greeting and introductory conversation, David tried to break the news to Mrs. Steerforth as gently as possible, but Miss Dartle caught on quickly and lost her composure. She began to rail on Mrs. Steerforth and David, too, when he tried to calm her down or berate her for her lack of compassion. In Miss Dartle’s mind, no one loved Steerforth more than she had. She would have been his devoted, self-sacrificing wife if she had had the chance. Instead, she received a scar on her lip that marred her face for life. In her view, Mrs. Steerforth had ruined him, encouraging his faults and discouraging whatever was good in him. As far as she was concerned, the mother had gotten what she deserved.
Mrs. Steerforth becomes nonfunctional on hearing the news—Throughout this diatribe, Miss Dartle showed no compassion and a good deal of contempt and mockery of Steerforth’s mother. But it almost didn’t matter. Once the mother realized what had happened, she lapsed into a semi-catatonic state, with an occasional moan being the only sign that she was alive.
Miss Dartle finally expresses compassion for Mrs. Steerforth—David was concerned that Miss Dartle would remain in her relentlessly cruel mode, but just before he left, she drastically changed her manner and began showing affection and concern for Mrs. Steerforth. Still, all Mrs. Steerforth could do was stare into space with a fixed look and moan. As David left the room, he was followed by Miss Dartle’s curses.
Steerforth’s body is returned home; David says his last farewell to his friend—David returned later that day with Steerforth’s body. Mrs. Steerforth was still in catatonic mode, despite multiple attempts by the doctors to help her. She and Miss Dartle hadn’t left Steerforth’s room, so David and those who helped to carry the body laid it on Mrs. Steerforth’s own bed. Before leaving the house, David closed all the curtains and shades, leaving the room with Steerforth for last. In a final act of farewell to his friend, he took Steerforth’s motionless hand and placed it against his heart.
David takes steps to prevent Mr. Peggotty and Emily from learning about Ham and Steerforth–David was determined not to let word of Ham’s and Steerforth’s deaths get back to his emigrant friends, so he told no one, with the exception of Traddles and Mr. Micawber, whose help he enlisted. Mr. Micawber’s job, which he took on with great flourish and enthusiasm, was to prevent Mr. Peggotty from seeing a newspaper.
The Micawbers adjust their style for the great outdoors—As preparation for his new life in Australia, Mr. Micawber had outfitted himself with an oilskin jacket, a straw hat, and a telescope. Mrs. Micawber had wrapped herself in a shawl and put on a tight bonnet, as had Miss Micawber. Master Micawber wore a Guernsey shirt and sailor pants, and the younger children were all dressed in waterproof clothing. In short, they were ready for the great outdoors.
Everyone gathers to help with the preparations—David found the Micawbers in front of the Hungerford Steps as they watched some of their belongings leave by boat. They were staying in a room overlooking the river above a nearby pub, where David also found Agnes, his aunt, and Peggotty helping with last-minute clothing preparations before 7 a.m. the next day, when all emigrants had to be on board. Mr. Peggotty was there, too, and in the midst of all the commotion, David quietly told him the false but comforting message that Emily’s note had been delivered to Ham and that all was well. David’s goal was to see his friends off happy and untroubled, no matter how dark the reality was.
Mr. Micawber invites his friends for one last round of punch—Mr. Peggotty announced that all well-wishers could see their friends off the following day in the afternoon at Gravesend, where the ship would be docked before leaving. Until then, Mr. Micawber added, the men would be busy guarding their families and things, and, as Traddles just reminded him, there should be time for one more cup of punch—and all were invited!
More adjustments for life in the bush—David noticed that all the older Micawbers now carried bush knives, and it was his own foot-long version that Mr. Micawber now used to prepare the punch after first getting the ingredients from the bar downstairs. He even went so far as to wipe the knife on his sleeve. Moreover, the Micawbers no longer drank out of glasses but out of tin cups, apparently to get used to the rugged life that awaited them.
Another arrest and bail-out; Mrs. Micawber keeps hoping her family will appear—As Mr. Micawber was expounding upon this, he received a message asking him to come downstairs. Mrs. Micawber’s hunch was that it was someone from her family, finally come to make amends and say goodbye. In fact, it was an officer who had come to arrest Mr. Micawber on another charge by Uriah Heep. David was presently informed of this through another note, and promptly went downstairs to pay it and have Mr. Micawber released. Returning to the room upstairs, Mr. Micawber gave a vague excuse for his absence and then, apparently to ease his own mind, handed Traddles an elaborate calculation of his remaining debts, with compound interest. Unaware of the real reason for her husband’s momentary disappearance, and disappointed but undeterred in her hopes, Mrs. Micawber still believed that her family would show up at Gravesend at the last minute.
Mrs. Micawber’s faith in Mr. Micawber’s prospects in the brave new world of Australia—Aunt Betsey and David urged Mrs. Micawber to write when she got the chance. Both Mrs. and Mr. Micawber assured them they would, and Mr. Micawber added that it would be an easy thing, with all the ships going back and forth, and that the distance wasn’t worth mentioning—an exaggerated assessment in David’s view. Mrs. Micawber then launched into a speech about Mr. Micawber’s talents, his position in the new world, and her expectation that it would strengthen his ties with their home country, which had never given him the credit or opportunity he deserved. She felt he was an uncommon case and that he would rise to a high position in Australia, which would gain him recognition back in England. In her opinion, he should take charge of his destiny now and claim his due. Mr. Micawber, who was ready to put his experience in Britain behind him, had his doubts at first, but gradually saw the merit in her point of view and expressed his gratitude for her determined confidence. On that note, Aunt Betsey proposed a toast, and a beaming Mr. Peggotty shook hands with Mr. Micawber. In that moment, David felt that all would be well and that Mr. Peggotty, too, would do well wherever he went.
A final farewell on board the ship; one last arrest and bail-out—When David checked on them the following day, the Micawbers had already left by 5 a.m. in a boat for Gravesend, where he and Peggotty later met them to say their final goodbyes. The ship itself was mid-river, so that they had to take a smaller boat to get to it, which was apparent from the many boats that already surrounded it. Arriving on deck, David discovered from Mr. Peggotty that Mr. Micawber had been arrested one final time. But per David’s request, Mr. Peggotty had paid the bill, and now David paid him back.
A variety of emigrants and well-wishers crowd the boat; David spots Emily—In the dim lighting of the ship’s hull, David could see it was crowded with emigrants and their belongings. There were people of all different types, ages, and careers: smiths, farmers, children, parents, young adults, newborn infants, old people—all engaged in various activities as they said goodbye and prepared to leave on their long voyage. Off to the side by an open porthole, David noticed someone who resembled Emily. Another woman had just kissed her goodbye and moved off, but by the time David realized that her graceful manner reminded him of Agnes, he had already lost her in the crowd.
David and Mr. Peggotty say their final farewells; David finds Martha among the emigrants—The time had come for all visitors to leave, and Mr. Peggotty turned to David and asked him whether he had any last-minute messages or concerns. David answered that there was one—Martha. Just before that, David had noticed a young woman in black who was helping Mrs. Gummidge organize their belongings. Mr. Peggotty tapped her on the shoulder, and as she stood up, David saw that it was Martha. She was so overcome with emotion just then that she burst into tears. David blessed Mr. Peggotty for taking her with him, and in that moment he felt a deep love and respect for this kind and good man. David’s only other remaining mission was to give Mr. Peggotty Ham’s parting message, without revealing that Ham had died. That was hard, but even harder was not reacting when Mr. Peggotty gave him a loving message in return.
Last goodbyes as the ship moves off into the sunset—Peggotty had been sitting on a chest, crying, and David now said his final goodbyes to his emigrant friends before taking his dear old nurse with him into the little boat. It was sunset by then, and the beauty of the ship, with all the people crowded on deck in silence as they waited to wave their final farewells, left him with feelings of both sadness and hope. As the ship started to sail away, cheers arose from the small boats and were returned by the ship’s passengers. All of a sudden, David noticed Emily standing next to her uncle, who now pointed out David and Peggotty. Seeing Emily waving to them for the last time, David wished in his heart that she would be true to her uncle, who loved and cared for her. As the ship sailed off into the fading light and night fell on the English shore, David felt that night had fallen on his life.
David’s journey: an outline of his inner changes—Chapter 58 is about David’s journey abroad, though it’s more about his inner journey than about his external travels, which he barely mentions. Even then, the chapter is fairly simple as it explains how he went from a sense of overall numbness to grief and despair and, finally, to the remembrance of an old love that might once have become something more.
A three-year journey as a means of processing his emotions—David’s travels abroad lasted three years and encompassed many places and sights, but with little enthusiasm and with an ongoing sense of being removed from it all. As the shock of his recent losses gradually wore off, their reality began to hit home, and David’s suppressed grief rose to the surface. It encompassed not only his own losses, mistakes, and youthful dreams, but what might have been—lives that might have blossomed more fully had they not been cut short.
David’s heart begins to open in the purity of the Swiss countryside—After many months of aimless wandering, David finally arrived in the Swiss mountains. There, in the beauty of a Swiss valley at sunset, he began to feel a faint sense of peace and hope. Something of the purity and wonder of the place opened his heart, and for the first time since Dora’s death, he sobbed from the depths of his soul.
David receives a packet of letters—Immediately before that, David had picked up some letters at the village post office. He had barely kept in touch with his friends and relations, informing them of his latest destination but unable to write anything beyond that. This was the first packet he had received in a while, having missed a number of others.
David reads a comforting letter from Agnes—The letter he opened was from Agnes, who after one brief line about her own happiness and success in her latest endeavors, proceeded to write about her hope and confidence in David’s character and future development. She knew that, no matter what difficulties befell him, no matter how much pain he experienced, he would make the right choices and grow from his trials. He had done this before as a boy, and he would do it again. And she would always be there beside him, proud of his past and future accomplishments. That letter of comfort and hope was exactly what David needed. He read it many times and wrote Agnes, telling her that although he did not yet measure up to her view of him, he would work toward becoming that.
The dawning of a new life—This chapter contains some of the book’s most beautiful scenic descriptions, and like many scenic descriptions in Dickens, they depict a state of being. In this case, the pure beauty of the Swiss valley—the green trees and pasture, the sunlit snow-capped mountains, the singing shepherds’ voices, the fading colors of the sunset—all point to the dawn of a new life and hope, a new purity, like the clearing of the air after a violent storm. At the end of the last chapter, night fell as the ship sailed away, and now, having lived through the dark night of his own soul, David began to see a new light dawning in his heart through the words of one who had been a steady guide and comfort to him since his boyhood.
Agnes’s encouragement gives David new hope and resolve—Buoyed by Agnes’s sense of confidence in him, David resolved to try to become what she saw in him. One thing he appreciated about Agnes was that her vision for him was never accompanied by any sense of pressure. In that spirit, he allowed himself another three months to just be. By then, a year would have elapsed since the beginning of his journey, and he would decide what to do next.
David spends another two years in Switzerland, begins to write again, and regains a sense of self—David spent those three months in the valley, and when they were up, he decided to stay in Switzerland a while longer and write, wintering in Geneva and spending the rest of his time in the valley. He began to come out of his shell again and soon had many warm new friendships, and he took comfort and inspiration from nature. He also resumed his disciplined routine of writing and before long had sent Traddles a finished story for publication. After a break, he started his third novel, and before it was halfway through, he realized he was ready to go home. Aside from regaining a sense of self, he had accumulated much in the way of knowledge and experience, and he felt healthy again, which was not the case when he left England.
David becomes aware of his complex feelings for Agnes—There was one other thing David wanted to mention before leaving this chapter of his life. His complex feelings for Agnes, which remained suppressed for a long time, began to surface during his period of darkness and despair. It occurred to him that, through the impetuous choices of his younger years, he had undervalued her love and possibly thrown away the opportunity of its evolving into something more. Dora’s intuitions on the subject had also haunted him, and he had an inkling that Agnes might have felt something more for him at one point, but he wasn’t sure. Now as he returned to his native shores three years later, he knew he had feelings and thoughts of that nature, but he felt the opportunity to realize them was gone, and he didn’t want to disrupt what they had.
Returning to London in the fall—David returned to London on a cold, dreary, foggy evening in autumn, before the long summer vacation for the courts and universities had ended, Michaelmas term not beginning until October. After his travels through Europe, London’s houses, though familiar, seemed bleak to him, and some had even been pulled down to make way for changes in the neighborhood.
A lonely return by himself in the London fog—Change was, of course, to be expected not only in the physical surroundings but in the lives of those close to him. Traddles was slowly breaking into the legal field and was living in chambers at Gray’s Inn, one of the Inns of Court, and Aunt Betsey had returned to her house in Dover. David’s friends and relatives weren’t expecting him so soon, and because he wanted to surprise them, he hadn’t arranged for anyone to meet him and therefore felt a bit lonely. This was quickly eased, however, by the warmth from the familiar shop windows glowing through the fog.
David inquires about Traddles at the inn—On entering into the coffee shop at Gray’s Inn, where David would also be spending the night, he inquired about Traddles’s exact address. He next asked how Traddles was doing in his career as a lawyer. The first waiter David asked was not aware of any great reputation on his part, and the head waiter had never heard of him, nor did he seem interested. He was more intent on taking David’s dinner order.
After a discouraging response, David wonders if Traddles will succeed—David felt sorry for Traddles and wondered if he would ever make a go of it. It didn’t help that the heavy, traditional environment of Gray’s Inn, personified by the head waiter and the coffee room, seemed full of rules and regulations, unbending and unchanging. Everything was perfectly polished and maintained—sedate, old, and expensive. In such an environment, where little changed in a decade, someone like Traddles would come across as an unlikely upstart, and the thought that his friend stood no chance saddened David.
David hears girls laughing as he walks up to Traddles’s apartment—David quickly finished his dinner and headed off to see his old friend. Traddles lived on the top floor of No. 2 in the Court, and as David made his way up the dimly lighted staircase, he was surprised to hear the sound of girls laughing. When he stopped to listen, one of the old, decrepit planks gave way, and the noise he made upon stumbling interrupted the laughter.
A happy reunion—Arriving at Traddles’s door, he was greeted by a young boy attendant, who, after some hesitation, let David in and escorted him to the sitting room to see Traddles. Traddles was sitting at a table, apparently working, and both the boy and Traddles looked out of breath. But whatever hesitation was previously there disappeared when Traddles saw David. Instead, there was a happy reunion, with hugs, handshaking, and a mutual exchange of warm greetings and new information.
Traddles and Sophy are recently married; the laughing girls are her sisters—Traddles was impressed by David’s growing fame, and David learned that Traddles had finally married the “dearest girl in the world” just six weeks earlier. Apparently, David had not received Traddles’s latest letter. Sophy, who had been hiding behind the curtain, now came out, beaming. The laughing girls, it turned out, were her sisters, and just as David was coming up the stairs, Traddles had been playing with them. He had stopped when he heard a visitor arrive in the interest of looking professional.
Traddles makes the best of his situation—Traddles was delighted to have the laughter of young girls in his apartment. He felt it brought a sense of lightness and life to the heaviness of Gray’s Inn, even if it was deemed unprofessional. Living there with Sophy was also considered unprofessional, but they had no other options, and Sophy was extremely capable, which justified it in Traddles’s mind. And, as Traddles mentioned several times, they were ready to “rough it.” David asked which of the girls were there at the moment and learned that there were five, including the oldest (the “Beauty”), the invalid, and the two younger ones, whom Sophy had educated. Sophy had organized beds for all her sisters in their three-room apartment, while she and Traddles cheerfully made do with the floor the first week, afterwards graduating to a small attic room, which Sophy fixed up and which had an excellent view.
Traddles’s patience and determination—Traddles was also thrilled to point out the marble table and flowerpot he had been saving for so long. The other furniture was just functional, and they still didn’t have any silver, but all that would come in due time and would mean even more when they finally had it. After all, it had been a long wait for both Traddles and Sophy, so when Traddles began to make headway as a lawyer, he went down to Devonshire to convince Sophy’s father, the Reverend Crewler, that the time had come for him and Sophy to be married. Sophy, too, was willing, even though Traddles wasn’t completely settled. Her father agreed, on the condition that Traddles would earn £250 a year and provide a decent living space. Traddles also promised that if anything happened to the two parents, he would take care of the girls, assuming he was in a position to do so. The Reverend agreed to convince Sophy’s mother that it was time to let go of her daughter, even if she had been a great help to the whole family. That was easier said than done. Sophy had been so useful to the family that they resented having Traddles take her from them. But they did let go, and Traddles was happy and cheerful, even though he rose at five and worked constantly and hard.
David meets Sophy’s sisters—Suddenly, their attention shifted. The girls had come into the room, and Traddles now introduced them to David, who was impressed with their freshness, describing them as a “perfect nest of roses.” David found them all pretty, especially the oldest, but Sophy had a brightness and cheer that made her unique, and it was clear that she loved and believed in Traddles (“Tom,” to her) as much as he did her. She also emphasized that Traddles was David’s devoted friend and that when they visited with Aunt Betsey and Agnes in Kent, the main subject on everyone’s mind was David.
Traddles and Sophy’s cheerful generosity and competency leaves David with a feeling of hope—Another thing that delighted David about both Sophy and Traddles was their generosity and helpfulness toward Sophy’s sisters. Neither of them was troubled by the girls’ various whims and demands, which were ongoing. Instead, they were constantly and cheerfully at their service. They seemed to take great pleasure in being there for others and never appeared exhausted or upset. In the process of serving everyone, Sophy’s knowledge and capabilities in different areas—whether of singing songs, fixing hair, writing notes, or whatever else—had grown so much that no one thought of relying on anyone but her, out of all the sisters, to do anything. In return for all their love and good cheer, Sophy and Traddles received a tremendous amount of love and respect, and the whole experience left David in good spirits. It was like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dry and staid environment, and it left him with a feeling of hope about Traddles’s future, regardless of his surroundings.
David recognizes Mr. Chillip in the coffee room—It was in this mood that David returned to the coffeehouse and sat down by the fire. Before long, his thoughts turned from Traddles’s happiness to the difficulties of his own life, and he thought of Agnes and what he had lost by preventing that relationship from ever growing into something more than a brother-sister interaction. As he sat musing on these things, he noticed meek, little Mr. Chillip, the delivery room doctor, sitting off in a corner by himself reading the newspaper. David therefore walked up to him and asked him how he was. After a bit of bantering, Mr. Chillip still couldn’t figure out who David was, so David finally told him. That elicited an emotional reaction, and they got to talking about many things—that David looked like his father, that his fame as a writer was spreading, and that Mr. Chillip and his family had moved from Blunderstone to Bury St. Edmunds about seven years earlier because his wife had inherited some property.
David buys Mr. Chillip a drink and hears about the Murdstones’ latest escapades—David noticed that Mr. Chillip had emptied his glass of negus,[i] so he offered to buy them both another drink. The topic turned to David’s loss of Dora. Mr. Chillip had heard about it through Miss Murdstone, whose distinctive character had made an impression on him. In fact, the Murdstones had moved to the same neighborhood as the doctor and his family. Mr. Murdstone had once again married a young, fresh, innocent woman, and he and his sister then proceeded to terrorize her into a state of misery, weakness, and imbecility. Throughout the conversation, the doctor kept quoting Mrs. Chillip, a “great observer,” who noticed, among other things, that Mr. Murdstone referred to himself as a Divine Nature and delivered dark, severe speeches in the name of religion. Mr. Chillip himself could see no support for the Murdstones’ doctrine in the New Testament, and it was no surprise that the entire neighborhood disliked them, which, in the Murdstones’ view, meant they were all consigned to hell.
Memories of David’s birth; opinions on Aunt Betsey—After a bit more chatting, David discovered that Mr. Chillip was at Gray’s Inn as a professional witness in a hospital patient insanity case. He confessed that such cases made him nervous, just as Aunt Betsey’s behavior at the time of David’s birth had had a detrimental effect on him that took a while to unravel. David noted that he was on his way to visit the same Aunt Betsey and that she was, in fact, a wonderful, kind woman. That was too much for Mr. Chillip to process, and he took it as his cue to go to bed.
A cheerful reunion in Dover—The next day, David arrived at his aunt’s old cottage in Dover, where he was warmly and joyfully received by Aunt Betsey, Mr. Dick, and Peggotty, who now kept house for them. Aunt Betsey got a good laugh from Mr. Chillip’s fearful memory of her, and both Peggotty and David’s aunt went on about Mr. Murdstone and his “murdering” sister.
[i] Similar to hot toddy, a heated mixture of liquor, water, sugar, and spices
Catching up on the news—David and Aunt Betsey spent the evening by the fire talking of things like the emigrants’ successful beginnings in the new world, Janet’s marriage to a prosperous Dover tavern owner, and Aunt Betsey’s approval as shown by her decision to attend the wedding. Mr. Dick, too, was doing well. He had found a new vocation in copying, through which he managed to keep Charles I at bay.
Aunt Betsey steers the conversation toward the subject of David and Agnes’s relationship—Changing the subject, Aunt Betsey wanted to know when David planned to go to Canterbury. His aunt had picked up on something going on between Agnes and him, even though they hadn’t yet admitted it to each other, and now she steered the conversation in that direction. But David wasn’t ready to talk about his love for Agnes, so while it was obvious Aunt Betsey understood, she refrained from being too direct.
More detail about the Wickfields; Aunt Betsey’s intuitive understanding of David’s feelings—Before David even mentioned Agnes, Aunt Betsey read his mind and warned him that Mr. Wickfield had aged but also grown in his understanding of human nature. Agnes, on the other hand, was as beautiful and good as always, and she was busy with her school. In Aunt Betsey’s opinion, if she educated the girls to be like her, she would do much for the world. David hesitated before asking whether Agnes was romantically involved. According to Aunt Betsey, she had many suitors and could have married any number of times. Were there any viable ones, though—any that deserved her? Aunt Betsey had her suspicions but wouldn’t say anything beyond that. David’s stated hope was that Agnes would confide in him as a brother, just as he had always confided in her. But it was clear from the way Aunt Betsey looked at David throughout the conversation that she understood there was more going on. Now she said nothing but quietly placed her hand on his shoulder as they both looked into the fire.
David visits Agnes the following day—David rode to Canterbury the next day. On arriving at the old house, he hesitated at first but finally got up the courage to go in. The maid led him up the stairs to the drawing room, and David was relieved to see that all vestiges of the Heeps’ presence were gone. He had only told the maid he was a friend from abroad, so it was a happy surprise for Agnes when she saw him, and he, too, was happy to be in her peaceful presence again as he hugged her closely. She embodied home for him, a feeling of goodness, welcome, peace, and understanding he had long yearned for. Now she sat beside him, and though he still couldn’t bring himself to express his feelings, her calming influence had already begun its soothing magic, even when she spoke of Emily and of Dora’s grave.
David asks Agnes about herself but backs off when she seems uncomfortable—David asked Agnes about her own personal life, claiming she never spoke about herself. Agnes didn’t know what to say. They had their home back, and her father was healthy and content again, and that, to her, was everything. David pressed for more, but she denied there was anything else. Even so, she seemed uncomfortable, and he noticed a paleness in her face and a sadness to her smile at that moment. He changed the subject, and they spoke of different things—how the school kept her busy, how long David planned to visit, and that the old house was restored to its former happy self.
An evening with the Wickfields brings up thoughts about the past—Agnes had to finish teaching school for the day, so David went out for a walk about the town. The conversation had left him unconvinced that he could ever be anything more to Agnes than a loving brother, so he resolved to do this as faithfully as possible, as she had done for him. When David returned for dinner, Agnes’s father was back from his gardening, his latest pastime, located a bit beyond Canterbury. They had dinner with Agnes and about six little schoolgirls, and after dinner, they all went up to the drawing room, where they had tea while the little girls studied, played, and sang. After the girls left, the three of them reminisced about the past, although Mr. Wickfield spoke of many regrets. Yet Agnes had made it all worthwhile for him, and he would not change anything. For the first time, too, Mr. Wickfield spoke of his wife, who died of a broken heart after her father, a severe man who disapproved of her marriage, renounced her. Agnes was only two weeks old at the time of her death, and in her, Mr. Wickfield saw much of his wife and feared his daughter had suffered in similar ways. David wondered what he meant by this last statement. Yet even without a full understanding on David’s part, Agnes’s devotion for her father was clear, and David now gained a deeper sense of it.
Restrained communication between Agnes and David—When her father finished, Agnes played some old tunes on the piano. While she played, she asked David whether he had any thoughts of going abroad again. He asked her how she felt about it, and when she said she hoped he didn’t, he made it clear that her wish was his wish. He was trying to broach the subject of their relationship, and he finally did, but in a hesitant way. The most he could do at this point was to profess his undying love and commitment to her as a brother, no matter whom she loved or married. He felt he didn’t deserve her after all the years of falling in love with other women, and he misinterpreted the restrained emotional play he saw on her face.
David’s silent hopes—David had promised to be back in Dover by nighttime, and as he thought of their conversation on the way back, it seemed to him that neither of them was happy. He had resigned himself to a restrained love on earth, but he hoped that someday the transcendent nature of their true love would unfold in a heavenly realm.
David visits Traddles to sort through his fan mail, delivered there since his stay abroad—David spent several months in Dover finishing his book, with periodic visits to London to soak up city life or visit Traddles. Traddles had been managing David’s business affairs since his journey abroad, and in the meantime, David’s fan mail had grown so large that he arranged to have it delivered to Traddles’s address. Every so often, David would stop by to discuss some business point with Traddles and to sift through the bushels of mostly irrelevant letters.
Sophy trains herself as a copyist to help out Traddles—By now, Sophy’s sisters had returned to Devonshire, and Sophy herself kept busy managing their domestic affairs and, when necessary, staying out of sight of the stuffy legal types who might disapprove of the presence of a woman in chambers. David also noticed on many visits that Sophy would quickly shove a copybook into a drawer, and he wondered why. Eventually he discovered from Traddles that she had been training herself as a copyist so she could take over that job when “Tom” became a judge someday. He was proud of the professional results she had achieved and had no qualms about saying so, but Sophy herself felt it was better to keep it secret because of current attitudes toward women in the professions.
Traddles praises Sophy’s many wonderful qualities—David commented on what a wonderful wife she was, which got Traddles praising her many good qualities. She was cheerful and adaptable, always on time, discreet in her movements while staying in chambers, an excellent housekeeper, attractive and energetic, a good cook and baker, creative within their means, and fun to be with. For them, taking walks together to go window shopping and dream of what they would buy each other was as good as actually buying the thing. Or they would buy half-price theater tickets and enjoy every minute, or just sit together in a warm apartment on a cold night. Traddles was thrilled to be so lucky.
Mr. Creakle, now a magistrate, invites David to inspect a “model” prison system—David wondered if Traddles ever drew skeletons anymore, and Traddles had to admit that he did occasionally indulge in it. That got them talking about Mr. Creakle, and David remembered he had a letter from their old schoolmaster, who had since been appointed a Middlesex Magistrate and had invited David to observe how well their prison system worked. They claimed that solitary confinement was the secret to creating model prisoners, and David wanted to know if Traddles would come along to verify this great achievement. David also found it interesting that Mr. Creakle, who had been a tyrant toward the schoolboys, was gentle and considerate toward the worst criminals. Traddles was not surprised, and they both agreed to say nothing of their former treatment, which had apparently been forgotten now that David was famous.
David and Traddles tour the prison; David finds the prisoners’ excellent conditions ironic—A day or two later, David and Traddles visited the huge prison, which David remembered cost a great deal to build. They were met by several magistrates and some other visiting gentlemen. Mr. Creakle looked more or less the same, though older, and judging from his manner toward Traddles and David, he had no recollection of his former tyrannical behavior as their school principal. David was struck by the extreme concern the group had for the prisoners’ comfort as well as by the gentlemen’s total focus on prison life. Their tour began in the kitchen, coincidentally at around dinnertime, where David couldn’t help noticing the high quality of the meals being delivered to the prisoners’ cells. It occurred to him that the mass of workers who earned an honest living, including soldiers and sailors, rarely enjoyed a meal of that quantity and quality.
A flawed “perfect” system—The system’s supposed efficacy was based on the “perfect” isolation of individual prisoners, but as the men toured the building, David noticed that the isolation was not as perfect as claimed and that it was likely (and eventually proved) that the prisoners communicated enough that they knew a lot about each other, which was the opposite of the goal. The other thing he noticed repeatedly as they visited the prisoners’ cells was that their professions of remorse and reform all sounded strangely similar. Nor did he get a feeling of trust from any of them. It was easy to profess reform where there was no chance of temptation, but he doubted they would be able to resist reverting to their old ways under real outside circumstances.
Model Prisoner No. 27, the cream of the prisoner crop—Throughout the tour, the group kept hearing about Model Prisoner No. 27, who supposedly far outshone the others in his degree of reformation and his belief in the system that had converted him. He had such a good reputation at the prison that the tour leaders were saving his cell for last, so by the time they got there, David’s curiosity had reached its peak. When they finally arrived at his cell, Mr. Creakle, after looking through the keyhole, reported that No. 27 was reading a hymn book. The excitement that followed that revelation created so much competition for the keyhole that they decided to allow No. 27 to come out and meet the visitors in person.
No. 27 is brought out to meet the visitors—To Traddles’s and David’s great surprise, they found themselves looking at Uriah Heep. Uriah recognized them immediately and inquired after their well-being, which impressed the gentlemen on the tour. When Mr. Creakle asked him how he was, Uriah gave his usual profession of humility. Every time someone asked about his comfort, he used it as a chance to confess how wrong he had been and how much he had changed. Most of the party believed him.
Model Prisoner No. 28; the model prisoners speak—The magistrates now brought out another model prisoner, No. 28, who turned out to be none other than Mr. Littimer. Mr. Littimer emerged reading a book, with his “highly respectable” veneer perfectly intact. Each model prisoner had a champion, Mr. Creakle being Uriah’s and another gentleman being in charge of Littimer, and these champions guided the conversation. When asked how he was, Littimer’s answers had the same hollow ring to them as Uriah’s, but other than David and Traddles, the gentlemen visitors seemed not to pick up on this. The other thing Uriah and Littimer had in common, once they had made a show of how reformed they were, was to point the finger at other people, either as being the cause of their own guilt or as being in need of reform, as though the whole of London shared their qualities and backgrounds. Both Uriah and Littimer specifically addressed David, and Littimer even asked him to relay his “forgiveness” of Emily, in spite of her bad behavior when he tried to “save” her. Uriah gave a similarly sanctimonious speech, mentioning that David had hit him (to the horror of the naïve gentlemen) but that he forgave him. David couldn’t help noticing at one point that Uriah’s expression was more evil than ever and that when Littimer excused himself to return to his cell, he and Uriah exchanged looks as though they knew each other.
David asks a warden about the two prisoners’ crimes—David noticed that the magistrates were not keen to talk about the prisoners’ crimes, so he quietly asked one of the wardens, who he guessed had a more honest, less deluded view of the prisoners. He learned that Uriah was in prison for forgery, fraud, and conspiracy against the Bank of England. He had almost gotten away with the crime, but the bank managed to lure him into revealing himself. He was sentenced to permanent transportation. Littimer had been arrested for stealing £250 worth of valuables and cash from a young gentleman. He was on his way to America when he was recognized, in spite of his disguise, by Miss Mowcher, who grabbed his legs and wouldn’t let go. Littimer tried to beat her off, but even the arresting officers couldn’t pry her away, and she ended up being a star witness in court. Littimer was also sentenced to transportation.
David and Traddles’s conclusions about the model prison—David and Traddles left the prison convinced that no real reform had taken place. Littimer and Heep were the same deceivers they had always been, and the system that was supposed to be so promising held no real promise at all.
David and Agnes still keep their real feelings to themselves—Two months passed, and it was now Christmastime. David had visited Agnes once a week or more during that time, and his deep love and respect for her remained as strong as ever. Still, he could not express his real feelings and had relegated his desires to a mental shelf, where they would take a backseat to whomever she chose as her husband. His only consolation, other than her company, was that he could be to her what she had been to him for so many years—a trusted confidant, counselor, and friend—and that was what he now committed himself to being.
Aunt Betsey’s intuitions; David decides to find out if there’s another man—The only person who had any inkling of their feelings was Aunt Betsey, who silently surmised it through her usual astute observation of her nephew’s face. However, they never spoke of it directly, although Aunt Betsey left broad hints now and then, and there seemed to be a deep understanding between them. Agnes herself showed no signs of change, except for the occasional thoughtful look and sad smile, and she did not seem to have any awareness of David’s real feelings. All this reticence increased whatever confusion already existed, and David convinced himself there had to be another man, but he could not understand why Agnes kept her secret from him. In his determination to repay her for her faithfulness, he resolved to clear things up.
David gets the wrong idea from Aunt Betsey—It was in this frame of mind that David bid his aunt goodbye on his way out into the cold winter’s night. But before leaving, he could not refrain from asking her whether she knew anything more about Agnes’s secret love. Aunt Betsey said she thought she did, and when he asked her whether she was sure, she offered that she thought Agnes was going to marry. Determined to stick to his resolve and face this cheerfully, David wished God’s blessing upon her. His aunt, agreeing, blessed her husband, too. Hearing this bit of news from his aunt, David mounted his horse and set out for Canterbury, more determined than ever to broach the subject with Agnes.
David asks Agnes to reveal her secret love to him—Arriving at the Wickfields’, David found Agnes reading by herself. She quickly realized he was in a serious mood and gave him all her attention. It didn’t take David long to tell her that he knew she had a secret and he wanted her to share it with him, to let him be there for her. He assured her that his motives weren’t selfish, that he could take a back seat to whomever else she chose.
Agnes refuses to tell David and fends him off—Apparently, he struck a painful chord in her. As though she couldn’t face it, she moved quickly to the window, and he saw that she was crying, but something about her tears gave him hope. At the same time, he didn’t want to cause her pain, so he begged her to tell him what was going on, but she was adamant—she couldn’t speak about it just now. As she fended him off, David searched for some clue, and he began to wonder if there wasn’t some hope, after all, for the feelings he had buried. At first, he brushed them off. He wanted her to know that his motives were pure and unselfish, that he would be there for her no matter how their relationship changed outwardly. Hearing this, Agnes quietly informed him that he had misunderstood. Her secret was nothing new. She had held it within her for many years, but it was not something she would share, and she could bear it alone.
In a burst of passion, David and Agnes finally tell each other the truth—David’s thoughts were racing now as he realized the implications of what she was saying. As she began to walk away, he took her by the waist and held her close to him. He hadn’t come to tell her his deeper feelings, but now all his love, passion, and hopes burst forth as he dared to believe she might love him as something more than a friend. It was the closest thing to a marriage proposal, and when he saw her shedding tears of joy, he knew he had understood correctly. All the struggles he had felt in the last few years, the incompleteness he had sensed in his earlier marriage, the feeling of guidance and home she had always provided—all of it came spilling out now, and Agnes, too, admitted that she had loved David her whole life. That night, they walked together in the wintry fields, looking up at the moon and the stars and feeling at last that they had found peace and happiness together.
David and Agnes make their new relationship known to Aunt Betsey—The next day, David and Agnes went to Dover together, arriving in time for dinner. At first, they revealed nothing, but Aunt Betsey sensed something was different because she kept looking at David for clues, which meant putting on her spectacles. When she saw no hint of anything, she would remove them and use them to rub her nose, a sign that something was bothering her. Following dinner, when David told Aunt Betsey he had mentioned their conversation to Agnes, his aunt was perturbed and scolded him for betraying her trust. But when David put his arm around Agnes and they both leaned over her chair together, she caught on and became hysterical with joy—the only time David ever saw her like that. She hugged Peggotty and then hugged Mr. Dick. It was a happy moment for everyone.
David and Agnes are married; Dora’s secret request—Two weeks later, David and Agnes were married. It was a small but joyous wedding, with only the Traddles and the Strongs as guests. Afterwards, as David and Agnes drove off together, David felt at last that this was the love he had waited for all his life. But Agnes had one more thing to confess. Could David guess what it was? The night Dora died, she made Agnes promise that no one else would take her place.
Ten years later, David is a wealthy, successful author who lives in London with his family—It has been ten years since David and Agnes’s wedding. In the meantime, David has grown wealthy and famous as an author, and he and Agnes have moved to London and now have at least three children. When Chapter 63 opens, the family is together in the sitting room on a spring evening. There is a fire in the fireplace, the children are playing, and the scene is one of contentment and peace.
Mr. Peggotty visits from Australia—A servant announces the arrival of a personal visitor, a simple, rugged man resembling a farmer. It is Mr. Peggotty, and there is a joyful reunion. He is older, but still healthy and strong, and the children are immediately drawn to him. Mr. Peggotty recounts how he decided to take the long trip from Australia to visit David and his family before he got too old to do so. He would be staying in England for a month.
Mr. Peggotty tells of the hard work and success of the whole group of emigrants—After insisting that he stay with them, David and Agnes sat on either side of Mr. Peggotty, eager to see him and hear everything he had to tell. The word was that with hard work and patience, all the emigrants had prospered, between sheep farming, cattle raising, and other things. Mr. Peggotty felt with certainty that their group had been blessed.
Emily lives with her uncle, avoiding other people except when helping those in need—David and Agnes both wanted to know how Emily was doing. She had settled in with her uncle and was happy when around him, but she shied away from other people, except when helping those in need. Between that and her chores, she stayed busy. She could have married many times but felt that possibility was over for her, and there was something sorrowful and shy in her manner. No one there knew her history or why she was the way she was, though many people liked her.
Mr. Peggotty thanks David for keeping secret the bad news about Ham and Steerforth—Mr. Peggotty also thanked David for keeping the bad news about Steerforth and Ham from them. Mr. Peggotty himself, when he finally found out, managed to keep it from Emily for a year, but eventually she found out through an old newspaper brought by a traveler. David and Agnes wanted to know if the news had changed Emily. Mr. Peggotty said it did for a long time, but being away from people, out in nature, and staying busy helped her get through it. He saw her too often to gauge it correctly, but he thought he had noticed a difference and wondered whether David would recognize her.
Martha marries and moves to the bush—Agnes and David asked next about Martha. Mr. Peggotty told them that Martha married a year or so after they arrived. Women were few there, and her husband was a farmhand who had traveled a considerable distance. He proposed to her, and they moved to their own solitary place in the bush country. Before doing so, she asked Mr. Peggotty to tell her suitor her real life story, which he did.
Mrs. Gummidge decks a marriage suitor but remains loyal and helpful to Mr. Peggotty—What about Mrs. Gummidge? Mr. Peggotty started roaring with laughter when he heard the question, and soon they were all laughing uncontrollably. Even Mrs. Gummidge received a marriage proposal, and she reacted by smashing a pail over the suitor’s head. That incident aside, she remained completely changed. She totally dispensed with her lost, forlorn attitude and was the most helpful, hardworking, faithful person you could imagine.
The emigrants move to Port Middlebay after thriving in the bush; Mr. Peggotty pulls out the town paper—Finally, there was Mr. Micawber. What happened to him and his family? David and Agnes knew he had paid all his debts, which spoke well for him, but they were curious to learn more. Mr. Peggotty smiled and pulled out a newspaper. He explained they had all gotten their start in the bush country, where Mr. Micawber had worked as hard as anyone. Eventually, though, they had prospered so much they all moved to a town called Port Middlebay Harbour. Mr. Peggotty presented the Port Middlebay Times to tell the rest of the story.
Mr. Micawber fulfills Mrs. Micawber’s prediction; all the Micawbers and Mr. Mell, now Dr. Mell, and his family are thriving—The paper told of a dinner given in honor of Mr. Micawber, who was now a District Magistrate and regular columnist for the paper. The large room was packed to overflowing, and the town’s elite had crowded in to pay their respects to Wilkins Micawber, Esquire. He was introduced and toasted by Dr. Mell, David’s former teacher at Salem House, who had founded his own grammar school in Port Middlebay and was now married with children of his own, one of whom, Helena, was applauded for her beautiful dancing. Mr. Micawber’s own speech was received with great enthusiasm and applause. Further toasts were extended to Mrs. Mell and all the Micawbers: Mrs. Micawber and her extended family in England; Master Micawber, who delighted the audience with his singing; and the former Miss Micawber, now Mrs. Ridger Begs. The dinner and toasts were followed by dancing.
Mr. Peggotty points out a letter in the paper addressed to David and written by Mr. Micawber—Mr. Peggotty now drew their attention to another article, this one written by Mr. Micawber himself and addressed in formal terms to David, with the subtitle “The eminent author.” It was a public expression of gratitude and admiration for David’s contribution and achievements as an author. Mr. Micawber especially wanted to express that the people of Port Middlebay, who were as civilized as anyone, were his avid readers and always interested in David’s latest venture.
Seeing Peggotty and Aunt Betsey; visiting Ham’s grave; saying goodbye for the last time—During Mr. Peggotty’s time with David and Agnes, Peggotty and Aunt Betsey also came to see him. Toward the end, he and David took a trip to Yarmouth to see Ham’s grave, and in keeping with a promise he made to Emily, Mr. Peggotty collected some of the earth. Finally, David and Agnes both saw him off, and David knew it would be for the last time.
What became of everyone?—In his short closing chapter, David recalls the faces of those still living who played a role in his journey, and now he traces the outcome of their lives.
Aunt Betsey—First, there is Aunt Betsey, now in her eighties. Her eyesight might be weaker, but she still stands as tall and strong and energetic as ever, even walking six miles in the cold. Aunt Betsey’s longstanding wish for a goddaughter named Betsey Trotwood has been fulfilled, and that child was followed by a younger sister named Dora.
Peggotty—Then there’s Peggotty, also wearing glasses but still with her wax candle and needlework, and shoved in her pocket is the crocodile book, a cherished remnant of David’s childhood.
Mr. Dick—Entertaining himself and a new generation of boyish Davids with his kites is Mr. Dick. He still holds Aunt Betsey in the highest regard, but he is no longer too concerned with the Memorial.
Mrs. Steerforth and Rosa Dartle—Mrs. Steerforth has grown old and hunched over, and her mind is weak. She is easily confused, until she remembers that her pride and joy, her son, is dead, and she is struck by the pain of that realization. Her companion, Rosa Dartle, is the same edgy, bitter, impatient person, but when needed, she still has some compassion left for Steerforth’s mother.
Julia Mills, Jack Maldon—Julia Mills, now married to an extremely wealthy Scotchman, has returned from India. She is surrounded by the trappings of money and “society,” which includes the likes of such shallow individuals as Jack Maldon—and she has forgotten love and romance. To David, such an existence is the opposite of the things that make life worth living.
Dr. Strong, Annie, and Mrs. Markleham—Dr. Strong, that kindly old gentleman, has gotten as far as the letter D in his dictionary. But his marriage with Annie is happy, and his mother-in-law has been tamed.
Traddles and Sophy—Of course, there’s also Traddles. Time has moved a bit further along at this point, and Traddles is balding now, though what remains is as unruly as ever. He is on his way to becoming a judge, though he is modest about it. And he’s thrilled that he’s achieved all his life goals, and more. He is earning almost twice as much money as he expected to, his boys are receiving excellent educations, and Sophy’s sisters are either happily married or living with either them or their father, the Reverend. Only the “Beauty,” now a widow, is unhappy, having been through an imperfect marriage. But Traddles feels they can and will restore things.
It is Sophy’s birthday, and the house is full of relatives. It is one of the houses Sophy and Traddles once dreamt of owning, long before they could afford it. Now that they actually live there, they still give away the best rooms to Sophy’s sisters, who always seem to be staying with them for one reason or another. But for all their wealth, there is still the same simple good cheer that has always been a part of their home.
Agnes—Such are the faces that people David’s life. Yet among them all, one stands out and shines more brightly than all the others. It is Agnes, the guiding light of his life, who is beside him now and will be there till the end.