Page:Austen Sanditon and other miscellanea.djvu/128

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98
THE WATSONS

yes, we have been engaged this week,’ cried the boy, ‘and we are to dance down every couple.’ On the other side of Emma, Miss Osborne, Miss Carr, and a party of young Men were standing engaged in a very lively consultation, and soon afterwards she saw the smartest officer of the set walking off to the Orchestra to order the dance, while Miss Osborne passing before her, to her little expecting Partner hastily said: ‘Charles, I beg your pardon for not keeping my engagement, but I am going to dance these two dances with Colonel Beresford. I know you will excuse me, and I will certainly dance with you a&er Tea.’ And without staying for an answer, she turned again to Miss Carr, and in another minute was led by Colonel Beresford to begin the set. If the poor little boy’s face had in its happiness been interesting to Emma, it was infinitely more so under this sudden reverse; he stood the picture of disappointment, with crimson’d cheeks, quivering lips, and eyes bent on the Floor. His mother, stifling her own mortification, tried to soothe his, with the prospect of Miss Osborne’s second promise; but though he contrived to utter with an effort of Boyish Bravery, ‘Oh! I do not mind it,’ it was very evident by the unceasing agitation of his features that he minded it as much as ever. Emma did not think, or reflect; she felt and acted. ‘I shall be very happy to dance with you, Sir, if you like it,’ said she, holding out her hand with the most unaffected good humour. The Boy, in one moment restored to all his first delight, looked joyfully at his Mother and stepping forwards with an honest and simple ‘Thank you, Ma’am,’ was instantly ready to attend his new acquaintance. The Thankfulness of Mrs. Blake was more diffuse; with a look, most expressive of unexpected pleasure, and lively Gratitude, she turned to her neighbour with repeated and fervent acknowledgements of so great and condescending a kindness to her boy. Emma with perfect truth