Northanger Abbey. Part 22

Northanger Abbey. The dance

Northanger Abbey 22g (3)

With what

sparkling eyes and ready motion she granted his request,

and with how pleasing a flutter of heart she went with him

to the set, may be easily imagined. To escape, and, as she be-

lieved, so narrowly escape John Thorpe, and to be asked, so

immediately on his joining her, asked by Mr. Tilney, as if he

had sought her on purpose! — it did not appear to her that

life could supply any greater felicity.
Northanger Abbey 22a

Scarcely had they worked themselves into the quiet pos-

session of a place, however, when her attention was claimed

by John Thorpe, who stood behind her. ‘Heyday, Miss Mor-

land!’ said he. ‘What is the meaning of this? I thought you

and I were to dance together.’

‘I wonder you should think so, for you never asked me.’
Northanger Abbey 22b

‘That is a good one, by Jove! I asked you as soon as I came

into the room, and I was just going to ask you again, but

when I turned round, you were gone! This is a cursed shab-

by trick! I only came for the sake of dancing with you, and

I firmly believe you were engaged to me ever since Monday.

Yes; I remember, I asked you while you were waiting in the

lobby for your cloak.’
Northanger Abbey 22c

‘That gentleman would

have put me out of patience, had he stayed with you half a

minute longer. He has no business to withdraw the atten-

tion of my partner from me. We have entered into a contract

of mutual agreeableness for the space of an evening, and all

our agreeableness belongs solely to each other for that time.

Nobody can fasten themselves on the notice of one, without

injuring the rights of the other. I consider a country-dance

as an emblem of marriage. Fidelity and complaisance are

the principal duties of both; and those men who do not

choose to dance or marry themselves, have no business with

the partners or wives of their neighbours.’
Northanger Abbey 22d

‘But they are such very different things!’

‘ — That you think they cannot be compared together.’

‘To be sure not. People that marry can never part, but

must go and keep house together. People that dance only

stand opposite each other in a long room for half an hour.’
Northanger Abbey 22e

‘And such is your definition of matrimony and dancing.

Taken in that light certainly, their resemblance is not strik-

ing; but I think I could place them in such a view. You will

allow, that in both, man has the advantage of choice, woman

only the power of refusal; that in both, it is an engagement

between man and woman, formed for the advantage of each;

and that when once entered into, they belong exclusively

to each other till the moment of its dissolution; that it is

their duty, each to endeavour to give the other no cause for

wishing that he or she had bestowed themselves elsewhere,

and their best interest to keep their own imaginations from

wandering towards the perfections of their neighbours, or

fancying that they should have been better off with anyone

else. You will allow all this?’
Northanger Abbey 22f

‘Yes, to be sure, as you state it, all this sounds very well;

but still they are so very different. I cannot look upon them

at all in the same light, nor think the same duties belong to


‘In one respect, there certainly is a difference. In mar-

riage, the man is supposed to provide for the support of the

woman, the woman to make the home agreeable to the man;

he is to purvey, and she is to smile. But in dancing, their du-

ties are exactly changed; the agreeableness, the compliance

are expected from him, while she furnishes the fan and the

lavender water. That, I suppose, was the difference of duties

which struck you, as rendering the conditions incapable of

Northanger Abbey 22g (1)Northanger Abbey 22g (2)Northanger Abbey 22g (3)

‘No, indeed, I never thought of that.’

‘Then I am quite at a loss. One thing, however, I must ob-

serve. This disposition on your side is rather alarming. You

totally disallow any similarity in the obligations; and may I

not thence infer that your notions of the duties of the danc-

ing state are not so strict as your partner might wish? Have

I not reason to fear that if the gentleman who spoke to you

just now were to return, or if any other gentleman were to

address you, there would be nothing to restrain you from

conversing with him as long as you chose?’

‘Mr. Thorpe is such a very particular friend of my broth-

er’s, that if he talks to me, I must talk to him again; but there

are hardly three young men in the room besides him that I

have any acquaintance with.’
Northanger Abbey 22h (1)Northanger Abbey 22h (2)

To be continued

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