Study Guide

Emma Chapter Thirty-Nine

By Jane Austen

Chapter Thirty-Nine

  • As Emma thinks over the ball the next day, she’s satisfied to remember that Mr. Knightley shares her opinion about the Eltons.
  • Even Harriet seems to be getting over Mr. Elton after his snub at the ball.
  • Everything is as perfect as Emma could want it to be: Harriet is no longer in love, Mr. Knightley is not quarrelling with her, and Frank Churchill seems to be staying away from Hartfield.
  • Emma settles down to play with her nephews for the morning.
  • Before long, however, Frank and a very weak Harriet come in the gate.
  • Emma rushes out to meet them. Harriet’s face is completely white.
  • Together Emma and Frank assist her into the house, where she faints on the couch.
  • Once Harriet recovers, she shares her story.
  • Harriet and another classmate had been walking along a lane when a small band of gypsy children came up behind them.
  • Harriet’s friend ran away.
  • Harriet, whose muscles were cramped from dancing the night before, couldn’t really walk.
  • The gypsy kids surround her threateningly.
  • We know what you’re thinking. She’s scared of a group of kids? Seriously? But maybe they were really scary kids.
  • Or maybe she’s just a wimp.
  • Either way, she’s having a rough day.
  • She offers the children a shilling to go away, but they seem to know a good thing when they’ve found it. They refuse to leave.
  • Suddenly, Frank Churchill comes around the corner and rescues her.
  • (Frank had meant to go back to London early in the morning, but he stayed to return a pair of scissors to Miss Bates.)
  • Frank chases the children away and helps Harriet to Emma’s door.
  • Frank leaves to begin his journey to London.
  • Although Emma worries about Harriet, she’s actually rather delighted about this turn of events.
  • Woman in distress + handsome hero = true love. Right?
  • She’s sure that this rescue is the groundwork for Harriet and Frank’s love.
  • Nonetheless, Emma worries about telling her father the news – and rightfully so.
  • Mr. Woodhouse frets for days about the threat of savages on the loose.
  • Our narrator informs us that the gypsies move out of Highbury before they can be found.
  • Fortunately, upon hearing of the incident, all of Mr. Woodhouse’s neighbors make sure to ask him about his health. (C’mon, even hearing about a gypsy attack is enough to make any man sick!)