Elizabeth Marton

From even her first sighting of him, Elizabeth strongly despises Fitzwilliam Emmerson, the silent, surly friend of Edmund Fitzwield, owner of a nearby estate. However when things take a funny turn and something more than what Miss Marton could ever have anticipated is revealed, she begins to realize
exactly how wrongly judgemental she has been, particularly concerning Mr. Emmerson's father...

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10. 10

Later at dinner, a very fine-tasting meal of wild, marinated salmon, garlic butter, garden peas and new potatoes, more chatter arouse, again concerning Mr. Emmerson, whom was sat at the sides of Kitty and Mr. Fitzwield, opposite Elizabeth, Janet and Anne. Mr and Mrs Marton, Georgia, Lucinda and Ophelia were situated at various other points around the table, and Mrs Emmerson was seated at the head of the table, with Mrs Marton on her left and Mr Marton on her right. Throughout the first course, of rich cream-of-kale soup, there was a flow of talk, mostly about how sullen Mr. Emmerson was, how well he did (or didn't) play music, sing, dance or play the piano. Miss Lucinda Fitzwield and Miss Ophelia Emmerson, however, seemed mostly concerned with is fortune and estate; Pickely house. "I must say, if I were an heiress of Pickely, I should not ever wish to leave - unless, of course, I indeed managed to find a very rare better place - for it is such a fine house. So very, very fine..." Said Miss Fitzwield over the voice of Mrs Marton, whom was saying loudly "Quite awful, he was, to my Elizabeth, and I am sorry to have to ponder it, for he is a very handsome man, possibly the handsomest I have ever seen... It is such a shame..."

"Indeed." Agreed Mrs Emmerson gravely. "And I am sorry to hear it, for he is my very own offspring. My eldest child. My heir. But I quite agree, for he is exceptionally handsome. Not that I ought think so of my own son, that is..."

And so this talk continued, Mr. Emmerson sitting in an almost miserable silence. Several times, he would stop eating, put down his spoon or his knife, look up to glare at everyone in the room, then resume his paused eating. But it was with no relish, none at all, and even Elizabeth began to feel a little sorry for him. 

And then, as they were halfway through the main course, it became Kitty Marton's turn to speak, and what an unfortunate speech it was. Boldly and just as loudly as her mother, she said, so that the whole table should hear, "I don't think that I have ever had the misfortune to meet anybody quite as hateful as Mr. Emmerson and I should think that anybody whom is unfortunate to be the one he sets his heart upon ought to be perfectly indifferent to him. The man shall be quite loveless!"

Mr. Emmerson froze, mid-way through a forkful of salmon.

"Kitty!" Cried Janet in horror, "Oh! You must not say things as horribly malicious as that to poor Mr. Emmerson!"

But Kitty, whom held up the childish habit of doind and saying exactly as she pleased, without any regard for anyone, merely shrugged. "Just because it is malicious, does not mean that it is untrue, Janet, and what I said is true. Mr. Emmerson shall be quite loveless! Especially if he chooses Elizabeth: She cannot stand him, can you, Lizzie?"

Everyone's gaze turned to Elizabeth, except Mr. Emmerson's, for he could not bring himself to meet her eye, but Elizabeth, although she knew she ought say something to defend Mr. Emmerson, she could not bring herself to speak even one word. And so she merely sat there and raised her head to watch Mr. Emmerson's reaction. Nor was it a nice one.

At Kitty's remark, he had paled quite suddenly, then slammed the fork into the plate, so hard that Elizabeth thought it should splinter. The plate remained intact, however, although garlic butter did splash all over the place, including over Kitty's brand new creme dress. The entire table at once fell utterly silent, except the youngest Marton sister, whom squeaked in dismay. 

Mr. Emmerson stood up, shaking very visibly from head to foot. "I do not think that I am hungry any longer." He said, in a voice that was choked and which rang around the room sounding far too loudly than it should. "Possibly my headache from the other night had returned. Most unfortunate. Goodnight!" And he turned and walked briskly from the dining hall, leaving an awfully awkward silence in the place of his presence. 

It was noticed that nobody felt very hungry any more and the other Emmersons, only two of which looked even remotely worried, decided that it would be best if they made their leave early.

"Of course." nodded Mr. Fitzwield, dutifully. "I shall call the carriage. Thank you for coming. I am sure Mr. Emmerson will understand your motives for leaving most acutely, but, for now I think it wise to leave him be for the time being."

"Can we go home, too?" Wailed Kitty Marton tearfully, but not because she had any regard for Mr. Emmerson; her dress, she decided, had been utterly ruined by the garlic butter, and it had all been that Mr. Emmerson's fault! She told this much fiercely to Anne, whom loyally agreed with her little sister, although she privately thought that Kitty had been so dreadfully mean.

​And so, the Martons bid their farewells to the company and returned, soon afterwards, to Roland house in low spirits.

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