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Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a
comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite
some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived
nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to
distress or vex her.
She was the youngest of the two daughters of a most
affectionate, indulgent father; and had, in consequence of
her sister’s marriage, been mistress of his house from a very
early period. Her mother had died too long ago for her to
have more than an indistinct remembrance of her caresses;
and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman as
governess, who had fallen little short of a mother in
Sixteen years had Miss Taylor been
Woodhouse’s family, less as a governess than a friend, very
fond of both daughters, but particularly of Emma.
Between them it was more the intimacy of sisters. Even
before Miss Taylor had ceased to hold the nominal office
of governess, the mildness of her temper had hardly
allowed her to impose any restraint; and the shadow of
authority being now long passed away, they had been
living together as friend and friend very mutually attached,
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and Emma doing just what she liked; highly esteeming
Miss Taylor’s judgment, but directed chiefly by her own.
The real evils, indeed, of Emma’s situation were the
power of having rather too much her own way, and a
disposition to think a little too well of herself; these were
the disadvantages which threatened alloy to her many
enjoyments. The danger, however, was at present so
unperceived, that they did not by any means rank as
misfortunes with her.
Sorrow came—a gentle sorrow—but not at all in the
shape of any disagreeable consciousness.—Mis