“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; yet before she could execute her diversion Hannah (James’s daughter) came running towards them.
“Miss. Woodhouse you must come quickly!” She said in intense exasperation
“Oh miss it has caught us all off our guard! The misses has gone into labor, much sooner than Mr. Perry suspected. You must come at once miss, please. Make haste!”
“I shall call the carriage immediately” Mr. Knightly offered in vane, for Emma upon seeing Hannah had already begun to make her deductions and was in pursuit of Randalls by foot.
Her fear had carried her faster than any horse could and she arrived, quite out of breath and dampened, in under the usual ten minutes. Upon entering the estate she found a very agitated Mr. Weston, so far from his normal countenance that had Emma not already been vexed this abrupt change in his person would have caused her deep perturbation.
“When did this happen?”
“We had just started our second turn after supper when a cramp set in. It was over so quickly that we thought nothing of it. Moments later it came again, but with such intensity and pain she could not contain. Oh Emma, I cannot handle this suspense, my mind-”
“Who is with her now?”
“We sent Hannah for Mr. Perry knowing he would be with Mr. Woodhouse and in turn sent for you. He and Mrs. Jenkins are seeing to her now.”
Turning away from him, Emma made her way down the hall towards the lie-in room. Emma had little expectation of what to find, having never been present for a birth. Isabella had been the safe distance of sixteen miles at Brunswick Square, and Emma did not have the knowledge of growing up near livestock. Despite her ignorance she knew she could not leave her friend alone and with what was left of her waning confidence turned the door handle and entered the room where she found both mother and child safely at rest.
Only moments had passed since the babe, a daughter, had entered the world and the site of such a miracle took what little breath Emma had left.
“I hope you will forgive me and my impudence, but I could not let you be without kinship.” Emma ventured, walking over to the bed.
Reaching out her hand Mrs. Weston brought Emma to sit beside her to share in her joy, and perhaps lift the sorrow of her recent pain. She could not know how long in this manner they stayed until the sound of multiplying footsteps jolted her back to her senses and Emma rose to bring the happy and relieving news to Mr. Weston
Entering the drawing room Emma found Mr. Knightley tirelessly working to console Mr. Weston in spite of the vehement rebuttals of Mr. Woodhouse on the numerous perils of childbirth. Mr. Woodhouse had the deepest disapproval of childbirth, stating repeatedly what he believed to be an eternal verity that “Mother’s die”. The smile on Emma’s face was a consolation to all.
Wanting to allow the new family privacy, the small party set off to return to Hartfield, looking forward to the calming habit of their evening traditions. Emma could not comprehend all the feelings that were swimming in her heart, but was thankful, however conflicted, at having avoided what she believed to be an excruciating conversation with Mr. Knightley. She made a mental note to give her thanks to God later that night for a diversion that resulted in the happiest of circumstances, when it so easily could have been the opposite.
Emma indeed thought she was quite clear of anything else unpleasant occurring this evening. Her father’s worry had settled and he was beginning to gently drift to sleep in his fireside chair, when Mr. Knightley turned to Emma and appeared to begin to resurrect their interrupted conversation. Emma could feel the color draining from her face and was unsure she would be able to avoid him this time. Upon seeing this however Mr. Knightley changed his course stating “But, you are fatigued, are you not?”
Fatigued indeed. She had no notion of how much her mind had been working since she had discovered the root of her feelings for him, yes fatigued she was indeed. Emma felt a strange sensation and deep understanding for Jane Fairfax.
“Indeed, I do not think I can handle anymore excitement at present -nor anything of a mediocre nature if it requires clever consideration.” She added in hesitant reply. Emma thought she noted a hint of disappointment on his face, but it was so fleeting she could not be sure.
“Yes I quite agree, a very suspenseful day indeed. I shall leave you to recollect your cleverness then.” He said in Jest.