The Watsons and Emma Watson, p.1Joan Aiken
Copyright © 1996, 2008 by Joan Aiken Enterprises Ltd.
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Originally published in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz, an imprint of the Cassell Group.
First U.S. Edition: September 1996, 10987654321
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Emma Watson : Jane Austen’s unfinished novel completed / by Joan Aiken.
Completion of The Watsons, an unfinished novel by Jane Austen.
1. Young women--Fiction. 2. England--Social life and customs--19th century--Fiction. 3. Mate selection--Economic aspects--Fiction. 4. Marriage--Economic aspects--Fiction. 5. Domestic fiction. I. Austen, Jane, 1775-1817. Watsons. II. Title.
About the Author
This fragment of a novel was written by Jane Austen about 1803–1805, but was not published until 1871, as part of James Edward Austen-Leigh’s Memoir (Jane Austen had left it untitled; the title ‘The Watsons’ was provided by Austen-Leigh).
The first winter assembly in the town of D. in Surrey was to be held on Tuesday, October 13th and it was generally expected to be a very good one. A long list of county families was confidently run over as sure of attending, and sanguine hopes were entertained that the Osbornes themselves would be there. The Edwards’ invitation to the Watsons followed, of course. The Edwards were people of fortune, who lived in the town and kept their coach. The Watsons inhabited a village about three miles distant, were poor, and had no close carriage; and ever since there had been balls in the place, the former were accustomed to invite the latter to dress, dine, and sleep at their house on every monthly return throughout the winter. On the present occasion, as only two of Mr Watson’s children were at home, and one was always necessary as companion to himself, for he was sickly and had lost his wife, one only could profit by the kindness of their friends. Miss Emma Watson, who was very recently returned to her family from the care of an aunt who had brought her up, was to make her first public appearance in the neighbourhood, and her eldest sister, whose delight in a ball was not lessened by a ten years’ enjoyment, had some merit in cheerfully undertaking to drive her and all her finery in the old chair to D. on the important morning.
As they splashed along the dirty lane, Miss Watson thus instructed and cautioned her inexperienced sister—
‘I dare say it will be a very good ball, and among so many officers you will hardly want partners. You will find Mrs Edwards’ maid very willing to help you, and I would advise you to ask Mary Edwards’ opinion if you are at all at a loss, for she has a very good taste. If Mr Edwards does not lose his money at cards, you will stay as late as you can wish for; if he does he will hurry you home perhaps – but you are sure of some comfortable soup. I hope you will be in good looks. I should not be surprised if you were to be thought one of the prettiest girls in the room; there is a great deal in novelty. Perhaps Tom Musgrave may take notice of you; but I would advise you by all means not to give him any encouragement. He generally pays attention to every new girl; but he is a great flirt, and never means anything serious.’
‘I think I have heard you speak of him before,’ said Emma; ‘who is he?’
‘A young man of very good fortune, quite independent, and remarkably agreeable, a universal favourite wherever he goes. Most of the girls hereabout are in love with him, or have been. I believe I am the only one among them that have escaped with a whole heart; and yet I was the first he paid attention to when he came into this country six years ago; and very great attention did he pay me. Some people say that he has never seemed to like any girl so well since, though he is always behaving in a particular way to one or another.’
‘And how came your heart to be the only cold one?’ said Emma, smiling.
‘There was a reason for that,’ replied Miss Watson, changing colour. ‘I have not been very well used among them, Emma. I hope you will have better luck.’
‘Dear sister, I beg your pardon, if I have unthinkingly given you pain.’
‘When first we knew Tom Musgrave,’ continued Miss Watson, without seeming to hear her, ‘I was very much attached to a young man of the name of Purvis, a particular friend of Robert’s, who used to be with us a great deal. Everybody thought it would have been a match.’
A sigh accompanied these words, which Emma respected in silence; but her sister after a short pause went on.
‘You will naturally ask why it did not take place, and why he is married to another woman, while I am still single. But you must ask him – not me – you must ask Penelope. Yes, Emma, Penelope was at the bottom of it all. She thinks everything fair for a husband. I trusted her; she set him against me, with a view of gaining him herself, and it ended in his discontinuing his visits, and soon after marrying somebody else. Penelope makes light of her conduct, but I think such treachery very bad. It has been the ruin of my happiness. I shall never love any man as I loved Purvis. I do not think Tom Musgrave should be named with him in the same day.’
‘You quite shock me by what you say of Penelope,’ said Emma. ‘Could a sister do such a thing? Rivalry, treachery between sisters! I shall be afraid of being acquainted with her. But I hope it was not so; appearances were against her.’
‘You do not know Penelope. There is nothing she would not do to get married. She would as good as tell you so herself. Do not trust her with any secrets of your own, take warning by me, do not trust her; she has her good qualities, but she has no faith, no honour, no scruples, if she can promote her own advantage. I wish with all my heart she was well married. I declare I had rather have her well married than myself.’
‘Than yourself! yes, I can suppose so. A heart wounded like yours can have little inclination for matrimony.’
‘Not much indeed – but you know we must marry. I could do very well single for my own part; a little company, and a pleasant ball now and then, would be enough for me, if one could be young forever; but m
Emma shook her head in acquiescence.
‘Penelope, however, has had her troubles,’ continued Miss Watson. ‘She was sadly disappointed in Tom Musgrave, who afterwards transferred his attentions from me to her, and whom she was very fond of; but he never means anything serious, and when he had trifled with her long enough, he began to slight her for Margaret, and poor Penelope was very wretched. And since then she has been trying to make some match at Chichester – she won’t tell us with whom; but I believe it is a rich old Dr Harding, uncle to the friend she goes to see; and she has taken a vast deal of trouble about him, and given up a great deal of time to no purpose as yet. When she went away the other day, she said it should be the last time. I suppose you did not know what her particular business was at Chichester, nor guess at the object which could take her away from Stanton just as you were coming home after so many years’ absence.’
‘No indeed, I had not the smallest suspicion of it. I considered her engagement to Mrs Shaw just at that time as very unfortunate for me. I had hoped to find all my sisters at home, to be able to make an immediate friend of each.’
‘I suspect the Doctor to have had an attack of the asthma, and that she was hurried away on that account. The Shaws are quite on her side – at least, I believe so; but she tells me nothing. She professes to keep her own counsel; she says, and truly enough, that “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”’
‘I am sorry for her anxieties,’ said Emma; ‘but I do not like her plans or her opinions. I shall be afraid of her. She must have too masculine and bold a temper. To be so bent on marriage – to pursue a man merely for the sake of situation, is a sort of thing that shocks me; I cannot understand it. Poverty is a great evil; but to a woman of education and feeling it ought not, it cannot be the greatest. I would rather be teacher at a school (and I can think of nothing worse), than marry a man I did not like.’
‘I would rather do anything than be teacher at a school,’ said her sister. ‘I have been at school, Emma, and know what a life they lead; you never have. I should not like marrying a disagreeable man any more than yourself; but I do not think there are many very disagreeable men; I think I could like any good-humoured man with a comfortable income. I suppose my aunt brought you up to be rather refined.’
‘Indeed I do not know. My conduct must tell you how I have been brought up. I am no judge of it myself. I cannot compare my aunt’s method with any other person’s, because I know no other.’
‘But I can see in a great many things that you are very refined. I have observed it ever since you came home, and I am afraid it will not be for your happiness. Penelope will laugh at you very much.’
‘That will not be for my happiness, I am sure. If my opinions are wrong I must correct them; if they are above my situation, I must endeavour to conceal them; but I doubt whether ridicule – has Penelope much wit?’
‘Yes; she has great spirits, and never cares what she says.’
‘Margaret is more gentle, I imagine?’
‘Yes; especially in company. She is all gentleness and mildness when anybody is by. But she is a little fretful and perverse among ourselves. Poor creature! She is possessed with the notion of Tom Musgrave’s being more seriously in love with her than he ever was with anybody else, and is always expecting him to come to the point. This is the second time within this twelvemonth that she has gone to spend a month with Robert and Jane on purpose to egg him on by her absence; but I am sure she is mistaken, and that he will no more follow her to Croydon now than he did last March. He will never marry unless he can marry somebody very great; Miss Osborne, perhaps, or something in that style.’
‘Your account of this Tom Musgrave, Elizabeth, gives me very little inclination for his acquaintance.’
‘You are afraid of him; I do not wonder at you.’
‘No, indeed; I dislike and despise him.’
‘Dislike and despise Tom Musgrave! No, that you never can. I defy you not to be delighted with him if he takes notice of you. I hope he will dance with you; and I dare say he will, unless the Osbornes come with a large party, and then he will not speak to anybody else.’
‘He seems to have most engaging manners!’ said Emma. ‘Well, we shall see how irresistible Mr Tom Musgrave and I find each other. I suppose I shall know him as soon as I enter the ball-room; he must carry some of his charm in his face.’
‘You will not find him in the ball-room, I can tell you; you will go early, that Mrs Edwards may get a good place by the fire, and he never comes till late; if the Osbornes are coming, he will wait in the passage and come in with them. I should like to look in upon you, Emma. If it was but a good day with my father, I would wrap myself up, and James should drive me over as soon as I had made tea for him; and I should be with you by the time the dancing began.’
‘What! Would you come late at night in this chair?’
‘To be sure I would. There, I said you were very refined, and that’s an instance of it.’
Emma for a moment made no answer. At last she said—
‘I wish, Elizabeth, you had not made a point of my going to this ball; I wish you were going instead of me. Your pleasure would be greater than mine. I am a stranger here, and know nobody but the Edwards; my enjoyment, therefore, must be very doubtful. Yours, among all your acquaintance, would be certain. It is not too late to change. Very little apology could be requisite to the Edwards, who must be more glad of your company than of mine, and I should most readily return to my father; and should not be at all afraid to drive this quiet old creature home. Your clothes I would undertake to find means of sending to you.’
‘My dearest Emma,’ cried Elizabeth, warmly, ‘do you think I would do such a thing? Not for the universe! But I shall never forget your good-nature in proposing it. You must have a sweet temper indeed! I never met with anything like it! And would you really give up the ball that I might be able to go to it? Believe me, Emma, I am not so selfish as that comes to. No; though I am nine years older than you are, I would not be the means of keeping you from being seen. You are very pretty, and it would be very hard that you should not have as fair a chance as we have all had to make your fortune. No, Emma, whoever stays at home this winter, it shan’t be you. I am sure I should never have forgiven the person who kept me from a ball at nineteen.’
Emma expressed her gratitude, and for a few minutes they jogged on in silence. Elizabeth first spoke:—
‘You will take notice who Mary Edwards dances with?’
‘I will remember her partners, if I can; but you know they will be all strangers to me.’
‘Only observe whether she dances with Captain Hunter more than once – I have my fears in that quarter. Not that her father or mother like officers; but if she does, you know, it is all over with poor Sam. And I have promised to write him word who she dances with.’
‘Is Sam attached to Miss Edwards?’
‘Did not you know that?’
‘How should I know it? How should I know in Shropshire what is passing of that nature in Surrey? It is not likely that circumstances of such delicacy should have made any part of the scanty communication which passed between you and me for the last fourteen years.’
‘I wonder I never mentioned it when I wrote. Since you have been at home, I have been so busy with my poor father and our great wash that I have had no leisure to tell you anything; but, indeed, I concluded you knew it all. He has been very much in love with her these two years, and it is a great disappointment to him that he cannot always get away to our balls; but Mr Curtis won’t often spare him, and just now it is a sickly time at Guildford.’
‘Do you suppose Miss Edwards inclined to like
‘I am afraid not: you know she is an only child, and will have at least ten thousand pounds.’
‘But still she may like our brother.’
‘Oh, no! The Edwards look much higher. Her father and mother would never consent to it. Sam is only a surgeon, you know. Sometimes I think she does like him. But Mary Edwards is rather prim and reserved; I do not always know what she would be at.’
‘Unless Sam feels on sure grounds with the lady herself, it seems a pity to me that he should be encouraged to think of her at all.’
‘A young man must think of somebody,’ said Elizabeth, ‘and why should not he be as lucky as Robert, who has got a good wife and six thousand pounds?’
‘We must not all expect to be individually lucky,’ replied Emma. ‘The luck of one member of a family is luck to all.’
‘Mine is all to come, I am sure,’ said Elizabeth, giving another sigh to the remembrance of Purvis. ‘I have been unlucky enough; and I cannot say much for you, as my aunt married again so foolishly. Well, you will have a good ball, I daresay. The next turning will bring us to the turnpike: you may see the church-tower over the hedge, and the White Hart is close by it. I shall long to know what you think of Tom Musgrave.’
Such were the last audible sounds of Miss Watson’s voice, before they passed through the turnpike-gate, and entered on the pitching of the town, the jumbling and noise of which made farther conversation most thoroughly undesirable. The old mare trotted heavily on, wanting no direction of the reins to take the right turning, and making only one blunder, in proposing to stop at the milliner’s before she drew up towards Mr Edwards’ door. Mr Edwards lived in the best house in the street, and the best in the place, if Mr Tomlinson, the banker, might be indulged in calling his newly erected house at the end of the town, with a shrubbery and sweep, in the country.
Mr Edwards’ house was higher than most of its neighbours, with four windows on each side the door, the windows guarded by posts and chains, and the door approached by a flight of stone steps.
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