Northanger Abbey. Part 4

Northanger Abbey. The first ball

Northanger Abbey 4d (2)

Catherine too made some purchases

herself, and when all these matters were arranged, the im-

portant evening came which was to usher her into the Upper

Rooms. Her hair was cut and dressed by the best hand, her

clothes put on with care, and both Mrs. Allen and her maid

declared she looked quite as she should do. With such en-

couragement, Catherine hoped at least to pass uncensured

through the crowd. As for admiration, it was always very

welcome when it came, but she did not depend on it.

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Mrs. Allen was so long in dressing that they did not enter

the ballroom till late. The season was full, the room crowd-

ed, and the two ladies squeezed in as well as they could. As

for Mr. Allen, he repaired directly to the card-room, and

left them to enjoy a mob by themselves.

Northanger Abbey 4b


With more care for

the safety of her new gown than for the comfort of her pro-

tegee, Mrs. Allen made her way through the throng of men

by the door, as swiftly as the necessary caution would al-

low; Catherine, however, kept close at her side, and linked

her arm too firmly within her friend’s to be torn asunder

by any common effort of a struggling assembly.

Northanger Abbey 4c

By a continued exertion of strength and

ingenuity they found themselves at last in the passage be-

hind the highest bench. Here there was something less of

crowd than below; and hence Miss Morland had a compre-

hensive view of all the company beneath her, and of all the

dangers of her late passage through them. It was a splendid

sight, and she began, for the first time that evening, to feel

herself at a ball: she longed to dance, but she had not an ac-

quaintance in the room.

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Mrs. Allen did all that she could

do in such a case by saying very placidly, every now and

then, ‘I wish you could dance, my dear — I wish you could

get a partner.’ For some time her young friend felt obliged

to her for these wishes; but they were repeated so often, and

proved so totally ineffectual, that Catherine grew tired at

last, and would thank her no more.

Northanger Abbey 4e


They were not long able, however, to enjoy the repose of

the eminence they had so laboriously gained. Everybody

was shortly in motion for tea, and they must squeeze out

like the rest. Catherine began to feel something of disap-

pointment — she was tired of being continually pressed

against by people, the generality of whose faces possessed

nothing to interest, and with all of whom she was so wholly

unacquainted that she could not relieve the irksomeness of

imprisonment by the exchange of a syllable with any of her

fellow captives; and when at last arrived in the tea-room, she

felt yet more the awkwardness of having no party to join, no

acquaintance to claim, no gentleman to assist them.

Northanger Abbey 4f


They saw nothing of Mr. Allen; and after looking about them in

vain for a more eligible situation, were obliged to sit down

at the end of a table, at which a large party were already

placed, without having anything to do there, or anybody to

speak to, except each other.

Northanger Abbey 4g


To be continued

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