Posted on 2010-07-24
This was utterly dreadful – she had never been more concerned or upset in her life than when she heard the news of his engagement. The blow was shocking, all the more for its being unexpected. Try and she might to wish them happiness along with everyone else in Highbury and Donwell, she found she could not bring herself to do it.
She had innumerable doubts about their chances of living even in relative peace, let alone happiness. He was far too good for her: was the handsome, good-natured, wealthy master of Donwell Abbey doomed to be chained forever to such a–
Well, she would not finish that thought.
But she knew that they would never get on well together as a couple. She knew the future Mrs. Knightley well enough to know that she was utterly beneath him, not just in comparative means, but in the qualities his wife should possess. She was a woman of no accomplishment, hardly a proper education, and whatever she might have thought at one time and whatever others might say, she could see no beauty in her now.
It was dreadful to see him so taken in – he could not be in love – she knew he could not possibly be in love with such a–
Well, there was no point in following that thought further.
But how awful it would be after their marriage – to have him no longer coming to dine with them as he had always been so glad to do, to have no longer that easy intercourse of friendship between them, to have no longer the chance of his inviting her to exploring parties at the Abbey – to have a Mrs. Knightley to absorb all his attention and throw cold water over everything!
She was very much discomposed by the idea; she could not keep her feelings any longer to herself. 'Poor Knightley – poor fellow! It is a very sad business indeed,' she said aloud.
Her husband shrugged, his indifference so pronounced that it had to be affected. 'I just hope the young lady's pride is contented now,' he said, and then he snorted contemptuously. 'I suppose she always meant to catch Knightley if she could.' He went back to reading his newspaper.
She could not dismiss the matter from her mind so easily. 'It concerns me extremely – for though rather an eccentric fellow, he has a thousand good qualities.' She shook her head sadly. 'It is an extremely disagreeable business – a shocking plan, living together at Hartfield.'
'Rather he than I!' exclaimed Mr. Elton, secretly thanking his stars for his lucky escape.
At first his wife could not be so sanguine, but after some time of thought, she comforted herself with the reflections that her own servants were far superior to those at Hartfield, and that she did not have to dance attendance on a fussy elderly man – nor, she thought, looking somewhat bitterly at her husband whose face was hidden behind his newspaper, a demanding younger man – at all hours.
And really, thought Mrs. Elton, if only Emma Woodhouse's trousseau contained less fine white satin and expensive lace veils than hers, she would not change places with her.The End