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Chapter 11
It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of
young people passing many, many months successively, without being at any
ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind;--but
when a beginning is made-- when the felicities of rapid motion have once been,
though slightly, felt--it must be a very heavy set that does not ask for more.
Frank Churchill had danced once at Highbury, and longed to dance again; and
the last half-hour of an evening which Mr. Woodhouse was persuaded to spend
with his daughter at Randalls, was passed by the two young people in schemes
on the subject. Frank's was the first idea; and his the greatest zeal in pursuing it;
for the lady was the best judge of the difficulties, and the most solicitous for
accommodation and appearance. But still she had inclination enough for showing
people again how delightfully Mr. Frank Churchill and Miss Woodhouse danced--
for doing that in which she need not blush to compare herself with Jane Fairfax--
and even for simple dancing itself, without any of the wicked aids of vanity--to
assist him first in pacing out the room they were in to see what it could be made
to hold--and then in taking the dimensions of the other parlour, in the hope of
discovering, in spite of all that Mr. Weston could say of their exactly equal size,
that it was a little the largest.
His first proposition and request, that the dance begun at Mr. Cole's should be
finished there--that the same party should be collected, and the same musician
engaged, met with the readiest acquiescence. Mr. Weston entered into the idea
with thorough enjoyment, and Mrs. Weston most willingly undertook to play as
long as they could wish to dance; and the interesting employment had followed,
of reckoning up exactly who there would be, and portioning out the indispensable
division of space to every couple.
"You and Miss Smith, and Miss Fairfax, will be three, and the two Miss Coxes
five," had been repeated many times over. "And there will be the two Gilberts,
young Cox, my father, and myself, besides Mr. Knightley. Yes, that will be quite
enough for pleasure. You and Miss Smith, and Miss Fairfax, will be three, and
the two Miss Coxes five; and for five couple there will be plenty of room."
But soon it came to be on one side,
"But will there be good room for five couple?--I really do not think there will."
On another,
"And after all, five couple are not enough to make it worth while to stand up. Five
couple are nothing, when one thinks seriously about it. It will not do to invite five
couple. It can be allowable only as the thought of the moment."
Somebody said that Miss Gilbert was expected at her brother's, and must be
invited with the rest. Somebody else believed Mrs. Gilbert would have danced
the other evening, if she had been asked. A word was put in for a second young
Cox; and at last, Mr. Weston naming one family of cousins who must be
included, and another of very old acquaintance who could not be left out, it
became a certainty that the five couple would be at least ten, and a very
interesting speculation in what possible manner they could be disposed of.