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The big Christmas ball was to be held at Randalls on Christmas Eve, but an intimate dinner party was held two nights prior for a select few at Hartfield. John Knightley and family, Westons, Churchills, Bates, Eltons and Mr Woodhouse were in attendance.
A glowing seven month pregnant Mrs Emma Knightley was the epitome of the perfect hostess. She mingled between parties making sparkling conversation and welcomed each personally at the door.
But, if you were watching carefully enough, you would see the little touches Emma and Knightley exchanged throughout the evening – a lightly pressed hand against a side in passing, a pressure on a neck, or the squeeze of an arm. Not to mention the glances and meaningful gazes between the two.
These small motions were noted by Mrs Elton that evening. In a rare moment of non-self-absorbment she took it upon herself to see how the Knightley marriage was progressing – using all of her knowledge and expertise gleaned from her own very successful marriage to Mr E.
She saw the glances and the touches, and even worse, a rule-breaking private moment between the two when Mr Knightley led his pregnant wife to a dimly lit corner, seating them both before he took her hand.
Nothing was so scandalous as what he did next.
With complete disregard for all those around him, Mr Knightley leaned in to give his wife a kiss as her hand cupped his cheek. They parted, and his hand brushed where their child grew. They rested their foreheads against each others for a moment, before Knightley got to his feet, helped his wife to hers and they joined their guests once again.
The entire spectacle took less than a minute, but Augusta swore that that moment, that behaviour not befitting of proper society, would stay with her for life. In reality, her indignation lasted a grand total of three minutes before her eyes fell upon her next targets: Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill.
Now that was a good match. Yes indeed.