`He is a most fortunate man!' returned Mr. Knightley, with energy. `So early in life - at three-and-twenty - a period when, if a man chuses a wife, he generally chuses ill. At three-and-twenty to have drawn such a prize! What years of felicity that man, in all human calculation, has before him! - Assured of the love of such a woman - the disinterested love, for Jane Fairfax's character vouches for her disinterestedness; every thing in his favour, - equality of situation - I mean, as far as regards society, and all the habits and manners that are important; equality in every point but one - and that one, since the purity of her heart is not to be doubted, such as must increase his felicity, for it will be his to bestow the only advantages she wants. - A man would always wish to give a woman a better home than the one he takes her from; and he who can do it, where there is no doubt of her regard, must, I think, be the happiest of mortals. - Frank Churchill is, indeed, the favourite of fortune. Every thing turns out for his good. - He meets with a young woman at a watering-place, gains her affection, cannot even weary her by negligent treatment - and had he and all his family sought round the world for a perfect wife for him, they could not have found her superior. - His aunt is in the way. - His aunt dies. - He has only to speak. - His friends are eager to promote his happiness. - He had used every body ill - and they are all delighted to forgive him. - He is a fortunate man indeed!'

`You speak as if you envied him.'

`And I do envy him, Emma. In one respect he is the object of my envy.'

Emma could say no more. They seemed to be within half a sentence of Harriet, and her immediate feeling was to avert the subject, if possible. She made her plan; she would speak of something totally different - the children in Brunswick Square; and she only waited for breath to begin, when Mr. Knightley startled her, by saying,

`You will not ask me what is the point of envy. - You are determined, I see, to have no curiosity. - You are wise - but I cannot be wise. Emma, I must tell you what you will not ask, though I may wish it unsaid the next moment.'

`Oh! then, don't speak it, don't speak it,' she eagerly cried. `Take a little time, consider, do not commit yourself.'

`Thank you,' said he, in an accent of deep mortification, and not another syllable followed.

Emma could not bear to give him pain. He was wishing to confide in her - perhaps to consult her; - cost her what it would, she would listen. She might assist his resolution, or reconcile him to it; she might give just praise to Harriet, or, by representing to him his own independence, relieve him from that state of indecision, which must be more intolerable than any alternative to such a mind as his. - They had reached the house.

`You are going in, I suppose?' said he.

`No,' - replied Emma - quite confirmed by the depressed manner in which he still spoke - `I should like to take another turn. Mr. Perry is not gone.' And, after proceeding a few steps, she added - `I stopped you ungraciously, just now, Mr. Knightley, and, I am afraid, gave you pain. - But if you have any wish to speak openly to me as a friend, or to ask my opinion of any thing that you may have in contemplation - as a friend, indeed, you may command me. - I will hear whatever you like. I will tell you exactly what I think.'

`As a friend!' - repeated Mr. Knightley. - `Emma, that I fear is a word - No, I have no wish - Stay, yes, why should I hesitate? - I have gone too far already for concealment. - Emma, I accept your offer - Extraordinary as it may seem, I accept it, and refer myself to you as a friend. - Tell me, then, have I no chance of ever succeeding?'

He stopped in his earnestness to look the question, and the expression of his eyes overpowered her.

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