and speak to Dr. and Mrs. Hughes for a moment. - How do you do? How do you do? - Very well, I thank you. This is delightful, is not it? - Where's dear Mr. Richard? - Oh! there he is. Don't disturb him. Much better employed talking to the young ladies. How do you do, Mr. Richard? - I saw you the other day as you rode through the town - Mrs. Otway, I protest! - and good Mr. Otway, and Miss Otway and Miss Caroline. - Such a host of friends! - and Mr. George and Mr. Arthur! - How do you do? How do you all do? - Quite well, I am much obliged to you. Never better. - Don't I hear another carriage? - Who can this be? - very likely the worthy Coles. - Upon my word, this is charming to be standing about among such friends! And such a noble fire! - I am quite roasted. No coffee, I thank you, for me - never take coffee. - A little tea if you please, sir, by and bye, - no hurry - Oh! here it comes. Every thing so good!'

Frank Churchill returned to his station by Emma; and as soon as Miss Bates was quiet, she found herself necessarily overhearing the discourse of Mrs. Elton and Miss Fairfax, who were standing a little way behind her. - He was thoughtful. Whether he were overhearing too, she could not determine. After a good many compliments to Jane on her dress and look, compliments very quietly and properly taken, Mrs. Elton was evidently wanting to be complimented herself - and it was, `How do you like my gown? - How do you like my trimming? - How has Wright done my hair?' - with many other relative questions, all answered with patient politeness. Mrs. Elton then said, `Nobody can think less of dress in general than I do - but upon such an occasion as this, when every body's eyes are so much upon me, and in compliment to the Westons - who I have no doubt are giving this ball chiefly to do me honour - I would not wish to be inferior to others. And I see very few pearls in the room except mine. - So Frank Churchill is a capital dancer, I understand. - We shall see if our styles suit. - A fine young man certainly is Frank Churchill. I like him very well.'

At this moment Frank began talking so vigorously, that Emma could not but imagine he had overheard his own praises, and did not want to hear more; - and the voices of the ladies were drowned for a while, till another suspension brought Mrs. Elton's tones again distinctly forward. - Mr. Elton had just joined them, and his wife was exclaiming,

`Oh! you have found us out at last, have you, in our seclusion? - I was this moment telling Jane, I thought you would begin to be impatient for tidings of us.'

`Jane!' - repeated Frank Churchill, with a look of surprize and displeasure. - `That is easy - but Miss Fairfax does not disapprove it, I suppose.'

`How do you like Mrs. Elton?' said Emma in a whisper.

`Not at all.'

`You are ungrateful.'

`Ungrateful! - What do you mean?' Then changing from a frown to a smile - `No, do not tell me - I do not want to know what you mean. - Where is my father? - When are we to begin dancing?'

Emma could hardly understand him; he seemed in an odd humour. He walked off to find his father, but was quickly back again with both Mr. and Mrs. Weston. He had met with them in a little perplexity, which must be laid before Emma. It had just occurred to Mrs. Weston that Mrs. Elton must be asked to begin the ball; that she would expect it; which interfered with all their wishes of giving Emma that distinction. - Emma heard the sad truth with fortitude.

`And what are we to do for a proper partner for her?' said Mr. Weston. `She will think Frank ought to ask her.'

Frank turned instantly to Emma, to claim her former promise; and boasted himself an engaged man, which his father looked his most perfect approbation of - and it then appeared that Mrs. Weston was

  By PanEris using Melati.

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