Friendship is like making little notes together, putting them in a box and a year later – when so much has changed in a village – you open the box, you read them again and you still feel the same…
In an old attic in Rowbury house, the house of Mr and Mrs Knightley, the last formerly living at Hartfield, Emma and Mrs Harriet Martin were looking around some old notes they had written when they just met. “Do you know that every time I predicted a match it became the truth?”, Emma glances. Harriet sighs softly, “Oh my dear Emma, you promised Mr Knightley and Mr Woodhouse not to make anymore matches again.”
Emma gazes, then she continued: “The new Miss Yealy who just arrived in Highbury at Mrs Goddard’s school to teach the children.”
“You shan’t do it.”
“She’s so lonely, compare yourself with her, dear Harriet.” Emma smiled, she knew Harriet was right but by heart she did feel she had to… “I have been right so many times, why shouldn’t I be right this time in matchmaking?”
Harriet nodded, “Alright, write down your prediction and I would also be making one, put them in this box and if you’re right again, you may make as many matchmaking as you like.” And so Emma and Harriet started writing.
The night of the dinner had come and at the big table in Rowbury house Mr Knightley, Mr Woodhouse – who was still in good health –, Harriet and Mr Martin were all talking to each other. The poor Miss Yealy was sitting at the back and sat quietly. “Poor Miss Yealy”, Mr Knightley whispered to Emma. Emma felt sorry for Miss Yealy. Miss Yealy being a very shy and modest person but being one of the most kind-hearted and dearest of people in Highbury. Miss Yealy being so shy she hardly ever speaks in public. Emma knew the arrival of Mr Winthrop may soon alter the scene and put a smile on Miss Yealy’s face.
With a bang the door of the living room flew open. Mr Winthrop was standing in the doorway, everyone looked at him. Mr Winthrop was believed to be a good-humoured, kind and honest man but all one could say now was that he had a palish complexion. After a proper introduction Mr Winthrop was seated next to Miss Yealy. He didn’t say a word, not to her, not to everyone, not even to comfort Miss Yealy. Mr Winthrop stared at the meal being served and didn’t look at Miss Yealy once. Miss Yealy didn’t feel at ease with a man being so rude that she almost started crying. Her being seated next to him she felt it was an intended match so at least she had hoped some attention, at least that would have been regarded as polite.
When the meal was nearly over, suddenly Mr Winthrop shove his chair and disappeared from the dining room. Miss Yealy, now running down tears over her cheeks, remained silent. Emma looked frightened, then she walked out of the living room. Outside, Mr Winthrop wasn’t to be seen anywhere, it was silent, snowflakes began to fall. “Strange.” Even more so when Emma noticed that Miss Yealy had disappeared too when she entered the living room again.
One week or so later, when Emma and Harriet were walking in the woods near Rowbury house, they saw Mr Winthrop picking some wild flowers in the fields. Mr Winthrop now looking healthily, Emma couldn’t understand how he could still show his face in Highbury and watched disdainfully. “How could he do such a thing? To disappear and then never to hear from him again?” Then Emma and Harriet walked on.
… Harriet could no longer held her breath and nearly fell over her own shoes so hard she run. Heavily breathing she reached Rowbury house. “What is the matter?” Emma said, looking at Harriet’s red face. Then Harriet told about the announcement notice – with engagements, marriages, births and deaths – before the church that Miss Yealy and Mr Wintrop were to be married! … That Mr Wintrop had a problem with his stomach so he felt terrible at the dinner and had to visit Bath the week after to recover… That Miss Yealy was wearing a flower headband he especially made for her… And that Miss Yealy was seen speaking in public about the good man Mr Wintrop was when he is not ill.
Somewhat later Emma and Harriet are sitting in the attic again, holding the note with the match Miss Yealy and Mr Winthrop. “I will never ever make matches again”, Emma sighs. Then Emma grabs Harriet’s hands and says “You’re my friend for so long now I want you to know that Mr Knightley and I are expecting”… Then she folds open Harriet’s prediction note and smiles…
(c) Janneke Schut