‘How came you not to dance with either of the Mr. Tomlinsons, Mary?’ said her Mother. ‘I was always engaged when they asked me.’ ‘I thought you were to have stood up with Mr. James, the two last dances; Mrs. Tomlinson told me he was gone to ask you, and I had heard you say two minutes before that you were not engaged.’ ’Yes—but—there was a mistake—I had misunderstood—I did not know I was engaged. I thought it had been for the two Dances after, if we stayed so long; but Captain Hunter assured me it was for those very Two.’
‘So, you ended with Captain Hunter, Mary, did you?’ said her Father. ‘And who did you begin with?’ ‘Captain Hunter’ was repeated, in a very humble tone. ‘Hum! That is being constant, however. But who else did you dance with?’ ‘Mr. Norton, and Mr. Styles.’ ‘And who are they?’ ‘Mr. Norton is a Cousin of Captain Hunter’s.’ ‘And who is Mr. Styles?’ ‘One of his particular friends.’ ‘All in the same Regiment,’ added Mrs. Edwardes. ‘Mary was surrounded by Red coats the whole Evening. I should have been better pleased to see her dancing with some of our old Neighbours, I confess.’ ‘Yes, yes, we must not neglect our old Neighbours. But if these soldiers are quicker than other people in a Ball-room, what are young Ladies to do?’ ‘I think there is no occasion for their engaging themselves so many Dances beforehand, Mr. Edwardes.’ ‘No, perhaps not; but I remember, my dear, when you and I did the same.’ Mrs. Edwardes said no more, and Mary breathed again. A great deal of good-humoured pleasantry followed, and Emma went to bed in charming Spirits, her head full of Osbornes, Blakes and Howards.
The next morning brought a great many visitors. It was the way of the place always to call on Mrs. Edwardes on the morning after a Ball, and this neighbourly inclination was