Chapter 19: Emma and Harriet are out walking, and Emma thinks of paying a visit to the Batses, in order to get Harriet's mind off of Mr. Elton. Emma does not think that they would have received a letter from Jane Fairfax recently, so does not think that she will have to suffer through it being read to her, but she is wrong. Miss Bates, who speaks quite fast and jumps from one subject to the other in a breath, cannot tell Emma enough about Jane. She tells her that because the Campbells (the couple Jane lives with) are going to Ireland to see their newly married daughter, she will be coming to stay with them at least three months. Through all of the rambling on of Miss Bates, Emma learns that Jane has been ill, and Emma convinces herself that something is going on between Jane and Mr. Dixon, the husband of the Campbell's daughter. While Emma does have to hear everything that was contained in the letter, she does manage to leave the Bates house before the letter is actually read.
Chapter 20: Lieut. Fairfax married Miss Jane Bates, and they had a daughter, Jane Fairfax. The couple soon died however, and Jane was left with her grandmother and aunt (Mrs. and Miss Bates). Colonel Campbell, a friend of Jane's father wanted to help, and so he took charge of her education, and he raised her with his family. The Campbells love Jane and want to keep her with them, but what little money they have must go to their own daughter, Miss Campbell, so Jane will soon have to become a governess to support herself. Jane and Miss Campbell are great friends, and Miss Campbell has recently married Mr. Dixon.
Emma thinks about why she does not like Jane Fairfax, and wonders if Mr. Knightley is right in thinking it is because Jane is thought of in ways that Emma wishes she herself were thought of. She also thinks that it is because Jane always seems so reserved and indifferent, and because her aunt is such a talker. Emma goes to visit Jane when she arrives, and finds her elegant, and goes on to think that there really was some sort of relationship between her and Mr. Dixon. When Jane and Miss Bates visit Emma at Hartfield, Jane's reserve annoys Emma, as Jane will not answer any of Emma's questions about Frank Churchill, whom she had met at Weymouth.
Chapter 21: Emma and Knightley discuss Jane, as he was there during her visit to Hartfield. He has only praise for Jane, and is disappointed that Emma is annoyed with her. Mr. Knightley then tells Emma that he has some news, but does not have time to tell her what it is, as Miss Bates and Jane enter. They excitedly tell Emma that Mr. Elton is going to be married to a Miss Hawkins. Emma is quite surprised, and is certain that it could not have been a long acquaintance, as he has only been gone four weeks. She also feels that he could not have suffered long over her, and is sorry for how Harriet will take the news. Soon Harriet comes over all excited, and tells Emma that she has just seen Mr. Martin and his sister at the store, and that after talking between themselves quietly they came over to talk to Harriet quite politely. Harriet is quite excited and wants to know what Emma thinks about the whole thing. Emma tries to make it seem like it is not a matter to be dwelt on. She then tells Harriet about Mr. Elton, and she thinks that Harriet does not take the news as bad as she would have if she had not just had the distraction of Mr. Martin.