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Emma, Volume III, Chapter 9 (Chapter 45)

When last we saw Emma, she was taking her leave of Miss Bates, after a lengthy but much-needed visit. Having put things to right with Miss Bates (or at least having made a start), Emma strolls slowly home at the start of this chapter, thinking heavy thoughts - probably more self-flagellation (deserved), as well as mulling over what it means that Frank left town in a hurry, etc.

Emma arrives home to find that both Harriet Smith and Mr Knightley are waiting to see her. Mr Knightley, it seems, has come to a long-thought-of, completely sudden and unexpected decision to head off to London to visit his brother, Mr John Knightley, and Emma's sister, Isabella (John's wife, for those who are just joining us or didn't fully play catch-up and needed a reminder).

And Mr Knightley is behaving in a most un-Mr Knightley-like manner. He's still courteous and pleasant, and is obviously glad that Emma set out to put things right with Miss Bates, but otherwise. Well, there's this:

Mr Knightley immediately got up, and in a manner decidedly graver than usual, said,

"I would not go away without seeing you, but I have no time to spare, and therefore must now be gone directly. I am going to London, to spend a few days with John and Isabella. Have you any thing to send or say, besides the 'love,' which nobody carries?"

"Nothing at all. But is not this a sudden scheme?"

"Yes--rather--I have been thinking of it some little time."

And also this:

He looked at her with a glow of regard. She was warmly gratified--and in another moment still more so, by a little movement of more than common friendliness on his part.--He took her hand;--whether she had not herself made the first motion, she could not say--she might, perhaps, have rather offered it--but he took her hand, pressed it, and certainly was on the point of carrying it to his lips--when, from some fancy or other, he suddenly let it go.--Why he should feel such a scruple, why he should change his mind when it was all but done, she could not perceive.--He would have judged better, she thought, if he had not stopped.--The intention, however, was indubitable; and whether it was that his manners had in general so little gallantry, or however else it happened, but she thought nothing became him more.--It was with him, of so simple, yet so dignified a nature.--She could not but recall the attempt with great satisfaction. It spoke such perfect amity.--He left them immediately afterwards--gone in a moment. He always moved with the alertness of a mind which could neither be undecided nor dilatory, but now he seemed more sudden than usual in his disappearance.

Mr Knightley is, as I've already remarked more than once, a Man of Action (as are Captain Wentworth, Mr Darcy, Henry Tilney, and Colonel Brandon), but his actions are a bit . . . off here. For one thing, he says he must be off, but then lingers (and we find out from Harriet a bit later in the chapter that he claimed he was in a rush quite some time ago, but insisted on waiting for Emma). And then he very nearly kisses Emma's hand, which is a courtly sort of behaviour that is out of character for him as well: while he's a good sort of gentleman who behaves properly, he's not usually prone to flourishes like that. And then he pretty much dashes off at a pace that's rapid even for him.

I love that we are privy to Emma's thoughts on his conduct, and to her own emotional reaction - she's pleased that he took her hand, and is wishing he would have kissed it. Mind you, she doesn't examine that any further just now, but it is nevertheless noteworthy to readers.

The next day, word arrives that Mrs Churchill is dead (cue the Winkies singing "ding dong the witch is dead", more or less - only not really, as Austen points out that now that she's actually dead, people find a bit of compassion for her after all). Emma immediately begins to scheme on Harriet's behalf, figuring that Frank would be a good match for Harriet (and thinking, based on that conversation back in Volume III, Chapter 4 (Chapter 40), that Harriet has formed a tendre for Frank), and hey, with his aunt being dead, his uncle will probably be a pushover.

Since Emma can't actually do anything to help the Harriet/Frank match along, she opts to do what she can to help poor Jane Fairfax out - offering to take her driving, sending her arrowroot, etc. - only to be rebuffed at every turn. Why, it's almost like Jane really, truly doesn't want to see Emma or accept anything from her. Ahem. In fact, Emma pretty much figures that part out, and assumes it's because she was a bit of a cow in how she treated Jane in the past. Time will tell whether she is entirely in the right.

Meanwhile, enjoy the following scene of Mr Knightley taking his leave, which I find so charming. I must say that I prefer the Jeremy Northam version, but I couldn't find it on YouTube despite a rather lengthy search, so Jonny Lee Miller will have to do:

Kiva - loans that change lives

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 14th, 2013 03:45 am (UTC)
Nothing in this life became her like the leaving of it!
Mar. 14th, 2013 08:55 am (UTC)
So very true.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 14th, 2013 11:08 pm (UTC)
Then of course, I had to look up who said that originally. Should have known it was Shakespeare!
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 15th, 2013 10:28 pm (UTC)
Mar. 14th, 2013 08:54 am (UTC)
Indeed - it's a fine illustration of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf".
Mar. 14th, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)
Mr. Knightly, I WILL RUN WAY so I don't have to see the joy of Emma's engagement, that is SO not happening! Poor Mr. Knightly!
Mar. 14th, 2013 08:56 am (UTC)
I've never thought about him expecting the joy of Emma's engagement to Frank before - just that he was so sickened by her behaviour with Frank that he had to get away for a while. But I am persuaded that you are correct here, which makes his angst so much worse. Poor man, indeed!
Mar. 14th, 2013 03:46 am (UTC)
Yes, it speaks of such perfect amity. That's it. Amity. Yes. Because you're not in love with him, or anything. Not at all. Amity.

I do think Michael Gambon does a wonderful job as Emma's father.
Mar. 14th, 2013 08:58 am (UTC)
I love Michael Gambon in pretty much everything I've seen him in. Which reminds me that I'd like to see Quartet.

And yes - amity. That's all he feels toward her, and vice versa. *headdesk*
Mar. 14th, 2013 04:10 pm (UTC)
Dumbledore is Emma's father?! *dies* I had no idea Michael Gambon was in this version. I might have to watch it now. He's an amazing actor. I bet he's wonderful.

And yes, "amity." Someone, please, smack that girl with a bonnet. She's needs sense knocked into her. Of course that's sort of the point of the whole story...
Mar. 15th, 2013 10:29 pm (UTC)
Michael Gambon is great in this role.

Emma needing to face reality is pretty much the point of the book, in a lot of ways . . .
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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