Its character as a ball-room caught him; and instead
of passing on, he stopt for several minutes at the
two superior sashed windows which were open, to look
in and contemplate its capabilities, and lament that
its original purpose should have ceased. He
saw no fault in the room, he would acknowledge none
which they suggested. No, it was long enough,
broad enough, handsome enough. It would hold
the very number for comfort. They ought to have
balls there at least every fortnight through the winter.
Why had not Miss Woodhouse revived the former good
old days of the room?—She who could do any
thing in Highbury! The want of proper families
in the place, and the conviction that none beyond
the place and its immediate environs could be tempted
to attend, were mentioned; but he was not satisfied.
He could not be persuaded that so many good-looking
houses as he saw around him, could not furnish numbers
enough for such a meeting; and even when particulars
were given and families described, he was still unwilling
to admit that the inconvenience of such a mixture
would be any thing, or that there would be the smallest
difficulty in every body’s returning into their
proper place the next morning. He argued like
a young man very much bent on dancing; and Emma was
rather surprized to see the constitution of the Weston
prevail so decidedly against the habits of the Churchills.
He seemed to have all the life and spirit, cheerful
feelings, and social inclinations of his father, and
nothing of the pride or reserve of Enscombe.
Of pride, indeed, there was, perhaps, scarcely enough;
his indifference to a confusion of rank, bordered
too much on inelegance of mind. He could be no
judge, however, of the evil he was holding cheap.
It was but an effusion of lively spirits.
At last he was persuaded to move on from the front
of the Crown; and being now almost facing the house
where the Bateses lodged, Emma recollected his intended
visit the day before, and asked him if he had paid
“Yes, oh! yes”—he replied;
“I was just going to mention it. A very
successful visit:—I saw all the three ladies;
and felt very much obliged to you for your preparatory
hint. If the talking aunt had taken me quite
by surprize, it must have been the death of me.
As it was, I was only betrayed into paying a most unreasonable
visit. Ten minutes would have been all that was
necessary, perhaps all that was proper; and I had
told my father I should certainly be at home before
him—but there was no getting away, no pause;
and, to my utter astonishment, I found, when he (finding
me nowhere else) joined me there at last, that I had
been actually sitting with them very nearly three-quarters
of an hour. The good lady had not given me the
possibility of escape before.”
“And how did you think Miss Fairfax looking?”
“Ill, very ill—that is, if a young
lady can ever be allowed to look ill. But the
expression is hardly admissible, Mrs. Weston, is it?
Ladies can never look ill. And, seriously, Miss
Fairfax is naturally so pale, as almost always to
give the appearance of ill health.— A most
deplorable want of complexion.”