William's desire of seeing Fanny dance made more than a momentary
impression on his uncle. The hope of an opportunity, which Sir Thomas had then
given, was not given to be thought of no more. He remained steadily inclined to
gratify so amiable a feeling; to gratify anybody else who might wish to see Fanny
dance, and to give pleasure to the young people in general; and having thought
the matter over, and taken his resolution in quiet independence, the result of it
appeared the next morning at breakfast, when, after recalling and commending
what his nephew had said, he added, "I do not like, William, that you should
leave Northamptonshire without this indulgence. It would give me pleasure to see
you both dance. You spoke of the balls at Northampton. Your cousins have
occasionally attended them; but they would not altogether suit us now. The
fatigue would be too much for your aunt. I believe we must not think of a
Northampton ball. A dance at home would be more eligible; and if--"
"Ah, my dear Sir Thomas!" interrupted Mrs. Norris, "I knew what was coming. I
knew what you were going to say. If dear Julia were at home, or dearest Mrs.
Rushworth at Sotherton, to afford a reason, an occasion for such a thing, you
would be tempted to give the young people a dance at Mansfield. I know you
would. If they were at home to grace the ball, a ball you would have this very
Christmas. Thank your uncle, William, thank your uncle!"
"My daughters," replied Sir Thomas, gravely interposing, "have their pleasures at
Brighton, and I hope are very happy; but the dance which I think of giving at
Mansfield will be for their cousins. Could we be all assembled, our satisfaction
would undoubtedly be more complete, but the absence of some is not to debar
the others of amusement."
Mrs. Norris had not another word to say. She saw decision in his looks, and her
surprise and vexation required some minutes' silence to be settled into
composure. A ball at such a time! His daughters absent and herself not
consulted! There was comfort, however, soon at hand. She must be the doer of
everything: Lady Bertram would of course be spared all thought and exertion,
and it would all fall upon her. She should have to do the honours of the evening;
and this reflection quickly restored so much of her good-humour as enabled her
to join in with the others, before their happiness and thanks were all expressed.
Edmund, William, and Fanny did, in their different ways, look and speak as much
grateful pleasure in the promised ball as Sir Thomas could desire. Edmund's
feelings were for the other two. His father had never conferred a favour or shown
a kindness more to his satisfaction.
Lady Bertram was perfectly quiescent and contented, and had no objections to
make. Sir Thomas engaged for its giving her very little trouble; and she assured
him "that she was not at all afraid of the trouble; indeed, she could not imagine
there would be any."
Mrs. Norris was ready with her suggestions as to the rooms he would think fittest
to be used, but found it all prearranged; and when she would have conjectured
and hinted about the day, it appeared that the day was settled too. Sir Thomas