Page:Austen Sanditon and other miscellanea.djvu/125

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95
THE WATSONS

Mrs. Edwardes, how do you do? How do you do, Miss Edwardes?’ he cried, with an easy air. ‘You are determined to be in good time, I see, as usual. The Candles are but this moment lit.’ ‘I like to get a good seat by the fire, you know, Mr. Musgrave,’ replied Mrs. Edwardes. ‘I am this moment going to dress,’ said he. ‘I am waiting for my stupid fellow. We shall have a famous Ball. The Osbornes are certainly coming; you may depend upon that, for I was with Lord Osborne this morning.’

The party passed on. Mrs. Edwardes’s satin gown swept along the clean floot of the Ball-room, to the fireplace at the upper end, where one party only were formally seated, while three or four Officers were lounging together, passing in and out from the adjoining card-room. A very stiff meeting between these near neighbours ensued, and as soon as they were all duly placed again, Emma, in the low whisper which became the solemn scene, said to Miss Edwardes, ‘The gentleman we passed in the passage was Mr. Musgrave, then? He is reckoned remarkably agreeable, I understand.’ Miss Edwardes answered hesitatingly: ‘Yes, he is very much liked by many people. But we are not very intimate.’ ‘He is rich, is not he?’ ‘He has about eight or nine hundred a year, I believe. He came into possession of it when he was very young, and my Father and Mother think it has given him rather an unsettled turn. He is no favourite with them.’ The cold and empty appearance of the Room and the demure air of the small cluster of Females at one end of it began soon to give way; the inspiriting sound of other Carriages was heard, and continual accessions of portly Chaperons and strings of smartly-dressed girls were received, with now and then a fresh gentleman straggler, who if not enough in Love to station himself near any fair Creature seemed glad to escape into the Card-room. Among the increasing numbers of