In his chamber, Emma was at peace from the dreadful mortifications of unequal Society, and family Discord, from the immediate endurance of Hard-hearted prosperity, low-minded Conceit, and wrong-headed folly, engrafted on an untoward Disposition. She still suffered from them in the Contemplation of their existence, in memory and in prospect; but for the moment, she ceased to be tortured by their effects. She was at leisure, she could read and think, though her situation was hardly such as to make reflection very soothing. The Evils arising from the loss of her Uncle, were neither trifling, nor likely to lessen; and when Thought had been freely indulged, in contrasting the past and the present, the employment of mind, the dissipation of unpleasant ideas which only reading could produce, made her thankfully turn to a book. The change in her home society and style of Life in consequence of the death of one friend and the imprudence of another had indeed been striking. From being the first object of Hope and Solicitude to an Uncle who had formed her mind with the care of a Parent, and of Tenderness to an Aunt whose amiable temper had delighted to give her every indulgence, from being the Life and Spirit of a House, where all had been comfort and Elegance, and the expected Heiress of an easy Independance, she was become of importance to no one, a burden on those whose affections she could not expect, an addition in a House already overstocked, surrounded by inferior minds with little chance of domestic comfort, and as little hope of future support. It was well for her that she was naturally cheerful; for the Change had been such as might have plunged weak spirits in Despondence.
She was very much pressed by Robert and Jane to return with them to Croydon, and had some difficulty in getting a refusal accepted; as they thought too highly of their own kindness and situation, to suppose the offer could appear in