Weston. While the match was suitable in every way, Emma could not help sighing over her loss, for now only she and her father were left at Hartfield, and Mr. Woodhouse was too old and too fond of worrying about trivialities to be a sufficient companion for his daughter.
The Woodhouses were the great family in the village of Highbury. In their small circle of friends, there were enough middle-aged ladies to make up card tables for Mr. Woodhouse, but there was no young lady to be a friend and confidante to Emma. Lonely for her beloved Miss Taylor, now Mrs. Weston, Emma took under her wing Harriet Smith, the parlor boarder at a nearby boarding school. Although not in the least brilliant, Harriet was a pretty seventeen-year-old girl with pleasing, unassuming manners and a gratifying habit of looking up to Emma as a paragon.
Harriet was the natural daughter of some mysterious person; Emma, believing that the girl might be of noble family, persuaded her that the society in which she had moved was not good enough for her. She encouraged her to give up her acquaintance with the Martin family, respectable farmers of some substance though of no fashion. Instead of thinking of Robert Martin as a husband for Harriet, Emma influenced the girl to aspire to Mr. Elton, the young rector.
Emma believed from Mr. Elton’s manner that he was beginning to fall in love with Harriet, and she flattered herself on her matchmaking schemes. Mr. Knightley, the brother of a London lawyer married to Emma’s older sister and one of the few people who could see Emma’s faults, was concerned about her intimacy with Harriet. ...