– Very well. I admit it. You have improved Harriet Smith.
– I hope you’re not the only man to have noticed. – I’m not. I believe your friend will soon hear something serious. Something to her advantage. Who makes you his confidant?
– I have reason to believe that Harriet Smith will soon receive an offer of marriage from a man desperately in love with her. Robert Martin. He came here two evenings ago to consult about it. He’s a tenant you know. Good friend. He asked whether it would be imprudent of him to settle so early, whether she was too young or whether he was beneath her.
– Better questions from mr. Martin I could not have chosen myself. – I never hear better sense from anyone than from Robert Martin. He proved he could afford to marry and I said he could not do better.
– No, indeed. He could not. Come. I will tell you something in return. He wrote to Harriet yesterday. – Oh, yes?
– Yes. He was refused. – I’m not sure I understand.
– He asked, and she refused. Then she is a greater simpleton than I believed. – The most incomprehensible thing in the world to a man is a woman who rejects his offer of marriage. – I do not comprehend it because it is madness. – I hope you’re wrong.
– I could not be. – I saw her answer.
– You saw her answer.. Emma… You wrote her answer, didn’t you? if I did I would have done no wrong. He is not Harriet’s equal.
– I agree, he’s not her equal. – Good.
– He is her superior in sense and situation. What are Harriet Smith’s claims of birth or education that make her higher than Robert Martin? She’s the natural daughter of nobody knows who. The advantage of the match was entirely on her side. – What?! A farmer?! Even with all his merit a match for my dear friend? It would be a degradation for her to marry a person whom I could not admit as my own acquaintance.
– Degradation for illegitimacy and ignorance to marry a respected intelligent farmer?! – She is a gentleman’s daughter!..
– Whoever her parents they made no plans to introduce her into good society. She was left with mrs. Goddard for an indifferent education. Her friends evidently thought this was good enough for her, and it was, and she thought so too, until you began to puff her up. Vanity working on a weak mind produces every kind of mischief. – You dismiss her beauty and good nature, yet I would be very much mistaken if your sex in general does not think those claims the highest a woman could possess. – Men of sense, whatever you may say, do not want silly wives. Upon my word, Emma… Better be without sense than miss-apply it as you do. Try not to kill my dogs. – We see so differently on this point that there can be no use canvassing it. We shall only make each other angry. Ah!.. I see the tea is ready. Let’s stop and have some. – Clearly, Emma, you have someone else in mind for your friend. But if the gentleman your dream of is mr. Elton your labor is in vain. As vicar, Elton is unlikely to make an imprudent match, especially to a girl of obscurity who may bring him disgrace. In unreserved moments, when only men are present, I have heard him speak of a large family of young ladies from Bath, who all have 20,000 pounds a piece. Believe me when I tell you that he may talk sentimentally but he will act rationally. – If I had my heart set on mr. Elton then your opening my eyes would have been a kind service but I care only to watch her grow.
– No more, please. No more!