Confessions by the Sea-Side
Mr. and Mrs. Knightley were strolling along the sea-shore one early dawn. They were spending their honeymoon in a tour of the sea-side. Mrs. Knightley's hand was tucked in her husband's arm.
Emma turned her head toward her husband and asked him, "Do you think papa will be all right?"
"He will be fine, my dear. He will be happy talking about Mr. Perry to Isabella."
Emma laughed but her face turned anxious. "I hope Mr. John Knightley doesn't lose his temper."
"Don't worry- it is just for two weeks. And John promised me he would keep our father-in-law in good humour." They both smiled.
After a moment, Emma said, "I like sea-bathing very much. I've always wanted to visit the sea-side."
"I remembered you telling so once when John and Isabella came to visit. I wanted you to have this pleasure. Besides, I wanted us to have some time together- just by ourselves."
"I cannot imagine how you remembered!" said his pleased wife.
"Emma, where you are concerned, how could I not?" said her husband with a smile.
"Oh, Mr. Knightley!"
"So, it is back to Mr. Knightley again? I remember what you called me last-"
"That was different," she said, blushing.
He laughed and gently stroked her hand. "Emma, my love, I want to ask you something that has puzzled me for some time."
"That day in the garden, when I was trying to tell you what I felt about you, why were you so discouraging at first, as though you were rejecting me?"
"Oh! Discouraging?" Emma faltered, a deep blush stealing over her face.
Mr. Knightley narrowed his eyes. "Emma, what are you hiding from me?"
"I thought you were talking about- that is...I thought you meant someone else..." She finished lamely, not meeting his eyes.
"Someone else! Whom did you think I was talking about?"
An indistinct mumble proceeded from his wife's mouth. Mr. Knightley took her hand into his and caressed it with his thumb. He said gently, "Did you think I was disappointed about Jane Fairfax?"
Something flashed in her eyes briefly as Emma looked up at her husband. "No! It was Harriet," said she and a sheepish smile crept into her face.
"Harriet!" exclaimed Mr. Knightley with lively astonishment. "Why would you think that?"
"Harriet was in love with you."
"Mhmmm. You were so kind to her at the Ball, after Mr. Elton humiliated her. After that, you were paying her more attention than ever. You never did look at her much before, you know- and she didn't realize you were doing it all for Robert Martin's sake..."
"Not entirely- I was also doing it for your sake, Emma. But, Emma, did you think I reciprocated her feelings?"
"She was so confident- I confess I had encouraged her- I thought she meant Frank. When she told me it was you- I was afraid. I realized only then that I did not want you marrying anyone but me."
She smiled ruefully and added, "Now you know what a complete fool I was!"
"So, that was why you were so happy to hear she was engaged to Robert Martin. I was surprised, I confess, at your complete reversal from all that you had felt and said."
"I was very distressed about her, I assure you. You cannot imagine how glad I was after all that!" She laughed. "Poor Harriet- I am happy for her."
"Wait a minute. You were planning a match between Harriet and Frank Churchill? Now, I am relieved," said Mr. Knightley and grinned. "I confess every fresh proof how little that gentleman meant to you makes me feel more elated than it probably should."
"My dearest, you must know by now I have only cared about you."
Mr. Knightley kissed her hand.
"Were you disappointed about Jane Fairfax?" Emma asked abruptly. "I mean, that she was marrying..."
"No. I did feel sorry for her at that time, but I was only relieved that you were safe from Frank Churchill and his intrigues! I couldn't wait to see you... You know what happened after that," said he smiling.
"I was very jealous when Mrs. Weston was trying to make a match of you both, though I didn't realize then why I was so fiercely set against you marrying Jane Fairfax or Jane Anybody."
"When you asked me about Jane Fairfax, I thought you had been trying to make a match between the two of us. It disturbed me greatly."
"I couldn't keep silent- I wanted to know the truth at once. You cannot imagine how relieved I was when you said you weren't interested in marrying her!"
Mr. Knightley sighed and pressed his wife's hand to his heart. "Well, we both have been clueless for quite a long time, my Emma! Now we are together at last, my dearest wife and I hope I will keep you as happy as you have made me!"