Forgot your password?  

Resources for students & teachers

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 200 pages of information about A Dark Night's Work.
off; minuets had vanished with them, country dances had died away; quadrilles were in high vogue—­nay, one or two of the high magnates of —–­shire were trying to introduce waltzing, as they had seen it in London, where it had come in with the visit of the allied sovereigns, when Edward Wilkins made his debut on these boards.  He had been at many splendid assemblies abroad, but still the little old ballroom attached to the George Inn in his native town was to him a place grander and more awful than the most magnificent saloons he had seen in Paris or Rome.  He laughed at himself for this unreasonable feeling of awe; but there it was notwithstanding.  He had been dining at the house of one of the lesser gentry, who was under considerable obligations to his father, and who was the parent of eight “muckle-mou’ed” daughters, so hardly likely to oppose much aristocratic resistance to the elder Mr. Wilkins’s clearly implied wish that Edward should be presented at the Hamley assembly-rooms.  But many a squire glowered and looked black at the introduction of Wilkins the attorney’s son into the sacred precincts; and perhaps there would have been much more mortification than pleasure in this assembly to the young man, had it not been for an incident that occurred pretty late in the evening.  The lord-lieutenant of the county usually came with a large party to the Hamley assemblies once in a season; and this night he was expected, and with him a fashionable duchess and her daughters.  But time wore on, and they did not make their appearance.  At last there was a rustling and a bustling, and in sailed the superb party.  For a few minutes dancing was stopped; the earl led the duchess to a sofa; some of their acquaintances came up to speak to them; and then the quadrilles were finished in rather a flat manner.  A country dance followed, in which none of the lord-lieutenant’s party joined; then there was a consultation, a request, an inspection of the dancers, a message to the orchestra, and the band struck up a waltz; the duchess’s daughters flew off to the music, and some more young ladies seemed ready to follow, but, alas! there was a lack of gentlemen acquainted with the new-fashioned dance.  One of the stewards bethought him of young Wilkins, only just returned from the Continent.  Edward was a beautiful dancer, and waltzed to admiration.  For his next partner he had one of the Lady —–­s; for the duchess, to whom the—­shire squires and their little county politics and contempts were alike unknown, saw no reason why her lovely Lady Sophy should not have a good partner, whatever his pedigree might be, and begged the stewards to introduce Mr. Wilkins to her.  After this night his fortune was made with the young ladies of the Hamley assemblies.  He was not unpopular with the mammas; but the heavy squires still looked at him askance, and the heirs (whom he had licked at Eton) called him an upstart behind his back.

CHAPTER II.

Follow Us on Facebook