Page:Austen Sanditon and other miscellanea.djvu/162

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As Margaret would not allow a doubt to be repeated of Musgrave’s coming to dinner, preparations were made for his Entertainment much exceeding what had been deemed necessary the day before; and taking the office of superintendance entirely from her sister, she was half the morning in the Kitchen herself directing and scolding. After a great deal of indifferent Cooking and anxious Suspense, however, they were obliged to sit down without their Guest. Tom Musgrave never came, and Margaret was at no pains to conceal her vexation under the disappointment, or repress the peevishness of her Temper. The Peace of the party for the remainder of that day, and the whole of the next, which comprised the length of Robert and Jane’s visit, was continually invaded by her fretful displeasure, and querulous attacks. Elizabeth was the usual object of both. Margaret had just respect enough for her Brother and Sister’s opinion, to behave properly by them, but Elizabeth and the maids could never do anything right, and Emma, whom she seemed no longer to think about, found the continuance of the gentle voice beyond her calculation short. Eager to be as little among them as possible, Emma was delighted with the alternative of sitting above, with her father, and warmly entreated to be his constant Companion each Evening; and as Elizabeth loved company of any kind too well, not to prefer being below, at all risks, as she had rather talk of Croydon to Jane, with every interruption of Margaret’s perverseness, than sit with only her father, who frequently could not endure Talking at all, the affair was so settled, as soon as she could be persuaded to believe it no sacrifice on her Sister’s part. To Emma, the exchange was most acceptable, and delightful. Her father, if ill, required little more than gentleness and silence; and, being a Man of Sense and Education, was, if able to converse, a welcome companion.