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Emma Chapter Forty Summary
Harriet shows up at Emma’s house with a strange parcel under her arm. She explains that she’s ready to give up on Mr. Elton now (only a few months after he got married)! In the box, she’s collected trinkets which memorialize her love for him. She’s ready to burn it. Surprised, Emma asks Harriet what trinkets she could have collected. Harriet lovingly unwraps a wooden casket and pulls out a bit of "plaister" (sort of like a band-aid). Mr. Elton played with it once. It goes on. And believe us, it only gets more pathetic. It’s also pretty funny. Harriet’s got a pencil Mr. Elton used once. She’s got lots more stuff. All of it would raise a fortune on EBay. Actually, that’s not totally true. It’s all mostly worthless. Emma happens to think Harriet’s collection is pretty amusing, as well. She struggles to hide a laugh at the maudlin nature of her friend. Harriet insists on burning the entire contents of the box – even though Emma points out that the plaister might be useful later on. Who knows? Maybe she could cut herself while burning the box. After the box burns, Harriet confesses that she’s beginning to fall in love again. Surprised and rather relieved, Emma sits down to listen. Harriet humbly asks Emma if she thinks that Harriet should even think about the new man she admires. After all, this man is a perfect gentleman. He’s far above Harriet in rank and reputation – but Harriet is sure that he’s shown some signs of affection for her! And he recently saved her from a horrible situation. Determined not to meddle in any more love affairs, Emma asks Harriet never to reveal her crush’s name. (Of course, she’s absolutely sure that it’s Frank. After all, didn’t he save her from the gypsies?) Emma couldn’t be happier. Harriet and Frank would be perfect together. Sure, he’s more eligible than she is – but Harriet is sweet enough and pretty enough to make up for her lack of fortune. She resolves to wish them well. Beyond that, however, she’s not going to do anything to advance their love. She’s had enough matchmaking for now. Saying enough to make Harriet happy, however, Emma manages to convince her that it’s OK for her to think about (and even love) a man who outranks her socially. She tells Harriet, however, never to mention her man by name. That way, Emma’s not really helping her along. They leave each other, confident that they’ve not said enough so that they understand each other perfectly. ...and anytime there’s perfect understanding, there’s got to be trouble ahead!
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