Chapters 27-29 Summary and Analysis
The next day, Emma has pangs of regret that she gossiped about Jane Fairfax, but her deeper regret is that she doesn’t play or sing as well as Jane does. Determined to improve, she sits down and practices until Harriet comes in full of flattery for Emma’s superior playing. When Harriet goes off to Ford’s shop, Emma goes with her, thinking to steer her away from any possible run in with Robert Martin.
At Ford’s shop, Harriet dawdles over her purchases while Emma looks down the road to see Mrs. Weston and Frank coming toward them. Mrs. Weston announces that they are on their way to the Bates’ house to hear the new pianoforte. When Frank sees Emma, he makes it plain that he prefers to stay with her, and a compromise is struck. Mrs. Weston promises him that if he will come with her to the Bates’ house, they can go to Emma’s afterwards.
As the shopkeeper is wrapping Harriet’s package, Miss Bates and Mrs. Weston enter and invite Emma and Harriet to come hear the pianoforte themselves. Miss Bates begins a lengthy monologue on her mother’s broken spectacles, and the wholesomeness of baked apples versus apple dumplings. Her non-stop talk sets Emma’s teeth on edge.
Once outside, Miss Bates chatters on. Mr. Knightley had called on them previously and seen Jane eating an apple. He gathered she was fond of them and when their housekeeper told him they were nearly out, he sent over a bushel of his best orchard apples. Miss Bates later learned from a servant that Mr. Knightley had sent over the remaining store of his own apples for the ladies.
When Emma arrives at the Bates’ house, Frank is mending Mrs. Bates’ spectacles with a rivet. When they sit down to hear Jane play, she is nervous. Frank begins to tease Emma about where the pianoforte might have come from, and Emma asks him not to mention it. He persists until Jane is forced to respond that until she receives a letter from Col. and Mrs. Campbell, nothing is certain. Frank requests that she play another tune, and when she does, he makes a reference to Weymouth, and she blushes, then changes tunes.
Frank suggests a tune from Ireland—yet another reference to the affair Jane might have had with her brother-in-law who is currently staying there. He needles her until Emma asks him to slow down. He makes yet another reference to the brother-in-law just before Miss Bates interrupts by calling out to Mr. Knightley, who appears outside on horseback. He declines to come in, though inquires if the women in the house need anything he can bring them from Kingsbury where he is headed. Miss Bates tells him how shocked they are that he had sent them the last of his apples, but he rides off. Before Miss Bates has a chance to replay the entire conversation, Emma departs.
Frank insists that a second ball be held. He and Emma discuss with Mrs. Weston where it best might be held. The Cole’s house is decided against because the guest list is too large to accommodate everyone there. Randalls is suggested as a possibility, and they begin marking off the drawing room to see if ten couples could fit and still have room to dance. Emma thinks the room too small, but Frank sees potential there.
The next day brings...
(The entire section is 882 words.)