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Emma Chapter Thirty-Six Summary
Mr. Weston thinks that it’s only polite to tell Mrs. Elton how pleased he will be to introduce her to Frank. Mrs. Elton immediately assumes that Mr. Weston is paying her a special compliment. (Probably because she’s the most important woman she knows.) Mr. Weston declares that Frank’s aunt is a "fine lady." Not willing to be outdone, Mrs. Elton asserts that her sister is also a fine lady. It becomes clear that Mr. Weston didn’t mean his comment to be a compliment. Mrs. Elton’s in a pickle: she wants Mr. Weston to admire her sister, but she doesn’t want her to be the same sort of fine lady as Mrs. Churchill. She does some fancy back-pedaling. Luckily, Mr. Weston’s attention span isn’t too good. He’s forgotten all about their conversation within seconds. Mr. Weston and Mrs. Elton begin to have a battle of the tongues: He talks for awhile about Frank and the Churchills. She replies by talking for awhile about her sister and Maple Grove. He responds with an answer about Frank. She talks about her sister. It’s almost like two monologues going on side-by-side. Emma sends for tea. Several members of the party play cards. Emma is left to talk to her brother-in-law, Mr. John Knightley. Mr. John Knightley usually hates dinner parties. Also, he’s a bit of a bear to begin with. Emma’s actually delighted to find that he seems to be in a fairly good mood! Mr. John Knightley mentions that his two boys (who will be spending the next few weeks with their aunt Emma) can be a bit rowdy. He offers to take them back whenever they begin to cause trouble. Observing that Emma seems to have a much more active social calendar than she used to, he smilingly asks her if she’ll have any time at all for the boys. Mr. Knightley interrupts to say that the boys can come over to his house whenever Emma wishes. Indignant, Emma refuses to give up any time with her beloved nephews. (It seems that Emma, for all her faults, loves her family very, very much). The Knightley brothers chuckle over Emma’s ruffled feathers.
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