Summary Chapter 26
Frank Churchill returns. His hair is cut. He is unashamed and merely laughs at his whim.
Emma is pleased that Mr. Knightley arrived at the Coles’ party like a gentleman—in a carriage, which is not his usual habit.
Emma enjoys herself at the Coles’ party. Mrs. Cole is relating how Jane Fairfax received a pianoforte, presumably from her old benefactor Colonel Campbell. However, the Campbells are not admitting that they sent it.
Emma believes Frank Churchill has the same suspicions as she does about the pianoforte. She believes Mrs. Dixon sent it. She believes that Mr. Dixon fell in love with Jane Fairfax.
Frank reveals that he had been at the party where Mr. Dixon had saved Jane Fairfax’s life, though he doesn’t make much over it. Emma talks to him about his life in Enscombe. She catches him, though, staring at Jane Fairfax. He excuses himself to ask Jane about her hair style.
Mrs. Weston tells Emma that Mr. Knightley sent his carriage to pick up the Bates’. Emma admits he is a considerate man. Mrs. Weston thinks he may admire Jane Fairfax as a potential wife. Emma doesn’t like the idea and gives many reasons why it can’t be. She is certain he doesn’t love Jane Fairfax.
Mrs. Weston doesn’t think he cares if it is a bad connection. He seems to wish it. He admires Jane Fairfax, that is obvious. She believes he was the one who sent the pianoforte. Emma doesn’t believe he would do such a thing anonymously. Emma can’t bear the thought of Mr. Knightley marrying Jane.
She is certain he didn’t send the pianoforte. He comments that surprise gifts are inconvenient to get. He does get angry when Frank Churchill wants Jane to continue singing when she is getting hoarse and encourages her aunt to put a stop to it.
Emma watches to see if Mr. Knightley asks Jane to dance, but he doesn’t.