Chapters 27-29 Summary

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Last Updated May 30, 2023.

The following day, Emma experiences a sense of remorse for gossiping about Jane Fairfax, but her more profound remorse stems from the realization that she doesn’t possess Jane’s level of musical talent. Emma is resolute in her efforts to improve, so she sits down to practice until Harriet arrives. Harriet praises Emma’s playing as superior to Jane’s, but Emma heartily disagrees. Emma decides to accompany Harriet to Ford’s shop to prevent any chance encounter with Robert Martin.

While at Ford’s shop, Harriet takes her time selecting her purchases while Emma keeps an eye on the road. She soon sees Mrs. Weston and Frank. Mrs. Weston informs them that they are heading to the Bates’ house to listen to the new piano, and when Frank catches sight of Emma, he indicates his desire to stay with her. A deal is negotiated, and Mrs. Weston assures Frank that if he accompanies her to the Bates’ house, they can visit Emma’s residence afterward.

While the shopkeeper is busy wrapping Harriet’s package, Miss Bates and Mrs. Weston enter and extend an invitation to Emma and Harriet to come and listen to the piano. Miss Bates launches into a lengthy soliloquy on her mother’s broken spectacles and the merits of baked apples.

After leaving the shop, Miss Bates continues to talk nonstop. She mentions that Mr. Knightley had visited them earlier and had noticed Jane eating an apple. Knowing Jane’s fondness for them, he had sent a bushel of apples from his own orchard when he learned that they were almost out. Later, Miss Bates discovered that Mr. Knightley had sent over the rest of his apple supply for the ladies, as reported by one of their servants.

When Emma reaches the Bates’ home, Frank is fixing Mrs. Bates’ glasses using a rivet. Jane seems anxious when they sit down to hear her play the piano, but everyone is delighted with her music. Frank begins to speak of the piano’s origins and commission mockingly, but Emma begs him to stop. However, Frank continues until Jane admits that she is unsure about the specifics of the piano’s commission. Then, Frank asks Jane to play another tune, and when she does, he mentions Weymouth, causing Jane to blush and play a different piece.

Miss Bates calls out a window to Mr. Knightley, who is outside on horseback. He enquires after Jane specifically, concerned that she had caught a cold the night before. He asks if he can do anything for them in Kingston, where he is headed, and declines to come in. Miss Bates thanks him for sending them the last of his apples, and he rides off. Emma and Harriet leave, accompanied by Frank and Mrs. Weston.

Frank insists on having another ball, and he, Emma, and Mrs. Weston deliberate on the best location. They decide against holding it at the Coles’ house, so Randalls is suggested, and they start measuring the parlor to see if it can accommodate ten couples while leaving enough space for dancing. Emma thinks the room is too small, but Frank sees potential in it.

The next day, Frank proposes that the ball be held at the Crown Inn in Highbury. Mr. Woodhouse, despite initial objections, approves of the plan, and Emma accompanies Frank to the Crown to meet with Mr. and Mrs. Weston to make arrangements. There, they discuss what to do about dinner, for it is feared that the adjoining room is too small. Frank suggests bringing in Miss Bates for her opinion. Emma protests but is overruled by Mr. Weston. As Frank collects Miss Bates, Mrs. Weston settles on a different room for dinner; and when Miss Bates arrives, she approves. Much to his father's delight, Frank asks Emma to be his partner for the first two dances.

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