Knowing that Frank plans to come back to Highbury soon causes Emma to think seriously about her affection for Frank.
As soon as she starts thinking about it, though, she realizes that she doesn’t really have any affection for Frank.
He’s a great friend, sure, but he’s just not the upstanding gentleman that she imagined he would be. In other words, imaginary Frank was so, so much better than real Frank. (Isn’t that always the way things work out?)
Frank does indeed arrive within a few days. He and the Westons visit Hartfield.
Emma notices a slight difference in Frank’s manners.
He’s still fun and engaging, but he doesn’t seem to have any affection left for her, either.
Philosophically, Emma determines that absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. In fact, absence is the best cure for half-formed loves. Like hers and Frank’s.
Frank doesn’t visit Hartfield again during his stay, proving Emma right once again.
It’s got to be hard to be so right all the time, don’t you think?
Now that Frank’s residence is a mere nine miles from Highbury, however, the Westons decide to resurrect their plans for a ball.
Although he’s slightly terrified at the thought of rampant disease, Mr. Woodhouse does agree that a ball in May is less likely to cause a pandemic than a ball in February.
Mr. Woodhouse just prays that nothing will happen to the young boys while Emma is out dancing. How could she ever forgive herself? (Sound like any parental guilt trips you’ve gotten?)