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Emma Chapter Forty-Three Summary
The next day, the exact same crew of people head up to Box Hill. You could think of this party as a nightmare version of day 1 (we sure do). It’s hot, nobody seems very excited about anything, and conversation sort of sucks. They all sit down on a hill, and Emma decides to liven things up a bit. She and Frank start flirting outrageously with each other. Sure, she knows that everybody else is listening – and that it’s ridiculously inappropriate – but she’s in a strangely elated mood. Frank, too, seems strangely driven to wild moods. He’s overly bright and far, far too attentive to Emma. He asks everyone to share what they’re thinking with Emma. No one takes them up on the offer. The two propose a game: each of the party will say one very witty thing – or two sort of witty things – or three boring things. Emma will judge who wins. Miss Bates laughs and observes that she won’t have to worry, then – at the very least, she can come up with three dull things. Emma, high on her own energy, replies that Miss Bates’ problem will be limiting herself to only three boring things. There’s a dreadful pause. Miss Bates slowly figures out what Emma meant. She’s very humble, so she just turns to Mr. Knightley and says that she must have been really boring for Emma to have said something so awful to an old friend. Mr. Weston comes up with a clever pun on Emma’s name. The company laughs. Mr. Knightley declares that if this is to be the focus of the game, he won’t participate. In other words, he’s not too fond of an Emma love-fest. Mrs. Elton throws a hissy-fit. For obvious reasons. By and large, the party disintegrates unhappily. Mr. and Mrs. Elton walk off. As they do, Frank makes a sarcastic remark about the "happy couple." Jane gravely replies that a couple that meets too quickly often finds later that they’re not compatible. Frank, more excited than ever, asks Emma to promise to select his wife. That way, she’ll be perfect. Like Emma. Aww…. He declares that he’s leaving for Europe for a few years. When he returns, he wants his wife to be waiting for him! Emma laughs and agrees to find him a woman. As they’re about to leave, Mr. Knightley pulls Emma aside. He chastises her for speaking so cruelly to Miss Bates. Although Emma is immediately ashamed and sorry, she pretends not to understand him. Mr. Knightley explains why he’s so upset: Miss Bates is poor, and she’s seen her station in society sink as her money has dwindled. She’s only ever been kind to Emma. Being mean to Miss Bates, in other words, is sort of like kicking a hurt puppy – only the most uncaring person would ever think of it. Deeply ashamed, Emma turns her face away – and so she misses the chance to tell Mr. Knightley how sorry she truly is. The carriages roll away. Emma cries all the way home.
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