Page:Austen Sanditon and other miscellanea.djvu/144

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114
THE WATSONS

had already heard from Nanny, was not well enough to be down stairs. With much concern they took their seats, Lord Osborne near Emma, and the convenient Mr. Musgrave, in high spirits at his own importance, on the other side of the fireplace with Elizabeth. He was at no loss for words; but when Lord Osborne had hoped that Emma had not caught cold at the Ball, he had nothing more to say for some time, and could only gratify his Eye by occasional glances at his fair neighbour. Emma was not inclined to give herself much trouble for his Entertainment, and after hard labour of mind, he produced the remark of its being a very fine day, and followed it up with the question of, ‘Have you been walking this morning?’ ‘No, my Lord. We thought it too dirty.’ ‘You should wear half-boots.’ After another pause, ‘Nothing sets off a neat ankle more than a half-boot; nankin galoshed with black looks very well. Do not you like Half-boots?’ ‘Yes; but unless they are so stout as to injure their beauty, they are not fit for Country walking.’ ‘Ladies should ride in dirty weather. Do you ride?’ ‘No, my Lord.’ ‘I wonder every Lady does not. A woman never looks better than on horseback.’ ‘But every woman may not have the inclination, or the means.’ ‘If they knew how much it became them, they would all have the inclination, and I fancy, Miss Watson, when once they had the inclination, the means would soon follow.’ ‘Your Lordship thinks we always have our own way. That is a point on which Ladies and Gentlemen have long disagreed. But without pretending to decide it, I may say that there are some circumstances which even Women cannot control. Female Economy will do a great deal, my Lord, but it cannot turn a small income into a large one.’ Lord Osborne was silenced. Her manner had been neither sententious nor sarcastic, but there was a something in its mild seriousness, as well as in the words themselves,