Chapter 16: That night when she is finally alone, all Emma can think about is what had happened with Mr. Elton. She is worried about what her blunders will mean for her friend Harriet. She wonders at how John Knightley noticed Elton's attentions to her when she did not, and how right Mr. Knightley was about Mr. Elton, thinking that the brothers had both warned her. She is convinced of Mr. Elton's arrogance at thinking he could marry her when she was so much his superior, and that his language and manners did not lead her to believe that he was really in love with her. After thinking more about it, she realizes that her attentions to Mr. Elton could be misconstrued, especially since he was looking for encouragement. She realizes that it is foolish of her to meddle in people's lives like this, and resolves not to do it again. She starts to think of whom else could be suitable for Harriet, and then stops herself, realizing her relapse. In the morning Emma feels better, and she is happy to see that there is much snow on the ground, which will hinder any visiting. For days they have to stay at Hartfield, and the evil hanging over Emma of having to tell Harriet what has happened stays with her.
Chapter 17: Mr. and Mrs. John Knightley leave Hartfield for home, and Mr. Woodhouse receives a letter from Mr. Elton saying that he is going to Bath for a few weeks and is sorry he could not take leave of him in person. Emma is glad he is going, but thinks that it will be noticed that her name is not mentioned in the letter. It is not. The next day Emma goes to Mrs. Goddard's and tells Harriet about what had happened. Harriet's tears make Emma ashamed again. Emma is determined to make Harriet happy and composed again before Mr. Elton's return.
Chapter 18: Frank Churchill writes to say that he cannot come to visit after all, and Mrs. Weston is disappointed. Emma and Mr. Knightley disagree about him, Knightley arguing that he is a young man can do what he sets his mind to and is just making excuses, and Emma defending him, saying that he is too much in debt to his aunt and uncle to disobey their wishes. He says that his letters are full of himself and of falsehood, and when Emma says that they seem to satisfy everyone else, he asserts that they cannot be satisfying Mrs. Weston, who must be feeling the omission of his not visiting. Emma thinks that Mr. Knightley is prejudiced against Frank Churchill.