Page:Austen Sanditon and other miscellanea.djvu/124

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Ladies in their first.’ ‘Rather more so, my dear,’ replied he, ‘because young Ladies are likely to feel the effects of it longer. When an old Lady plays the fool, it is not in the course of nature that she should suffer from it many years.’ Emma drew her hand across her eyes, and Mrs. Edwardes on perceiving it, changed the subject to one of less anxiety to all.

With nothing to do but to expect the hour of setting off, the afternoon was long to the two young Ladies; and though Miss Edwardes was rather discomposed at the very early hour which her mother always fixed for going, that early hour itself was watched for with some eagerness. The entrance of the Tea things at seven o’clock was some relief, and luckily Mr. and Mrs. Edwardes always drank a dish extraordinary, and ate an additional muffin when they were going to sit up late, which lengthened the ceremony almost to the wished for moment. At a little before eight, the Tomlinsons’ carriage was heard to go by, which was the constant signal for Mrs. Edwardes to order hers to the door; and in a very few minutes, the party were transported from the quiet warmth of a snug parlour, to the bustle, noise and draughts of air of the broad Entrance-passage of an Inn. Mrs. Edwardes, carefully guarding her own dress, while she attended with yet greater Solicitude to the proper security of her young Charges’ Shoulders and Throats, led the way up the wide staircase, while no sound of a Ball but the first Scrape of one violin, blessed the ears of her followers, and Miss Edwardes on hazarding the anxious enquiry of whether there were many people come yet was told by the Waiter, as she knew she should, that ‘Mr. Tomlinson’s family were in the room.’ In passing along a short gallery to the Assembly-room, brilliant in lights before them, they were accosted by a young Man in a morning dress and Boots, who was standing in the doorway of a Bedchamber, apparently on purpose to see them go by. ‘Ah!