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Book IV. The Country House
Chapter 38. Dancing
The windows of the long drawing-room at Monksmoor are all thrown open to the
conservatory. Distant masses of plants and flowers, mingled in ever-varying
forms of beauty, are touched by the melancholy luster of the rising moon. Nearer
to the house, the restful shadows are disturbed at intervals, where streams of
light fall over them aslant from the lamps in the room. The fountain is playing. In
rivalry with its lighter music, the nightingales are singing their song of ecstasy.
Sometimes, the laughter of girls is heard--and, sometimes, the melody of a waltz.
The younger guests at Monksmoor are dancing.
Emily and Cecilia are dressed alike in white, with flowers in their hair. Francine
rivals them by means of a gorgeous contrast of color, and declares that she is
rich with the bright emphasis of diamonds and the soft persuasion of pearls.
Miss Plym (from the rectory) is fat and fair and prosperous: she overflows with
good spirits; she has a waist which defies tight-lacing, and she dances joyously
on large flat feet. Miss Darnaway (officer's daughter with small means) is the
exact opposite of Miss Plym. She is thin and tall and faded--poor soul. Destiny
has made it her hard lot in life to fill the place of head-nursemaid at home. In her
pensive moments, she thinks of the little brothers and sisters, whose patient
servant she is, and wonders who comforts them in their tumbles and tells them
stories at bedtime, while she is holiday-making at the pleasant country house.
Tender-hearted Cecilia, remembering how few pleasures this young friend has,
and knowing how well she dances, never allows her to be without a partner.
There are three invaluable young gentlemen present, who are excellent dancers.
Members of different families, they are nevertheless fearfully and wonderfully like