TIME passed on. A few more to-morrows, and the party from London would be arriving. It was an alarming change; and Emma was thinking of it one morning as what must bring a great deal to agitate and grieve her, when Mr. Knightley came in, and distressing thoughts were put by. After the first chat of pleasure he was silent; and then, in a graver tone, began with,
'I have something to tell you, Emma; some news.'
'Good or bad?' said she, quickly, looking up in his face.
'I do not know which it ought to be called.'
'Oh! good I am sure.--I see it in your countenance. You are trying not to smile.'
'I am afraid,' said he, composing his features, 'I am very much afraid, my dear Emma, that you will not smile when you hear it.'
'Indeed! but why so?--I can hardly imagine that any thing which pleases or amuses you, should not please and amuse me too.'
'There is one subject,' he replied, 'I hope but one, on which we do not think alike.' He paused a moment, again smiling, with his eyes fixed on her face. 'Does nothing occur to you? --Do not you recollect?--Harriet Smith.'
Her cheeks flushed at the name, and she felt afraid of something, though she knew not what.
'Have you heard from her yourself this morning?' cried he.
'You have, I believe, and know the whole.'
'No, I have not; I know nothing; pray tell me.'
'You are prepared for the worst, I see--and very bad it is. Harriet Smith marries Robert Martin.'
Emma gave a start, which did not seem like being prepared --and her eyes, in eager gaze, said, 'No, this is impossible!' but her lips were closed.
'It is so, indeed,' continued Mr. Knightley; 'I have it from Robert Martin himself. He left me not half an hour ago.'