Mr. Knightley begins to suspect Frank of double dealing with Emma and Jane. He knows that Emma is ostensibly the subject of Frank’s admiration, but he reads symptoms of a secret understanding and admiration between Frank and Jane. He observes a peculiar incident on a group walk to Hartfield, in which Frank asks Mrs. Weston about Mr. Perry’s plan to set up his carriage, referring to information from a letter she sent him. However, Mrs. Weston has no idea what he is talking about, and Frank laughingly declares he must have dreamt it up. Miss Bates declares full knowledge of Perry’s plan for the carriage, as Mrs. Perry shared this secret with the Bateses—leading Mr. Knightley to suspect a secret communication between Frank and Jane.
Mr. Knightley, despite his cautious disdain for coming to fanciful conclusions through imagined hints, finds himself reading signs of a romance between Jane and Frank. Throughout the course of the novel, Emma, Mrs. Weston, and finally Mr. Knightley play a detective game of sorts in their attempts to piece together the signs of attraction between various characters. However, each is guided and influenced by his or her own desires for drawing certain conclusions. In Mr. Knightley’s case, his early dislike for Frank renders him attentive to Frank's flaws.
The party arrives at Hartfield, and Frank proposes a word game in which they unscramble alphabet tiles. Mr. Knightley seats himself near to observe. Jane unscrambles Frank’s puzzle, “blunder,” with a blush of consciousness. Frank then sends Emma “Dixon,” which amuses her and angers Jane. Mr. Knightley indignantly suspects that these word games conceal Frank’s deeper game of gallantry and trick.
Word games provide the medium for the romantic speculation and intrigue that runs throughout the entire novel. Frank’s puzzles allow divergent interpretations for Emma and Jane, but remain incomprehensible to Mr. Knightley. Only those with the inside knowledge can crack the code of Frank’s intentions. At the same time, Frank's games reveal again that in is fun-loving daringness he can be callous and reckless, even hurting the feelings of Jane, whom he loves.
Mr. Knightley stays behind to warn Emma, despite his concern that his interference with her affections for Frank will be unwelcome. He tells her about his suspicions regarding Frank and Jane, but she laughingly assures Mr. Knightley that she can answer for Frank’s complete indifference towards Jane. Mr. Knightley is unhappy by the intimation that Emma possesses such an intimate knowledge of Frank.
Mr. Knightley proves again that he is willing to risk Emma’s good feelings towards him in order to help her out. The emphasis on Mr. Knightley’s perspective allows us to view Emma, Jane, and Frank from a different light separate from Emma’s biases—though also revealing some of Mr. Knightley’s heart.