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friends; but Fitzroy seemed only to see Miss De Clifford, whose hand he eagerly took, and, as he delightedly gazed upon her, said "I am told I must not dance to-night, after I open the ball with lady Gaythorn; as, since it would be impossible for me to dance with every one, I might give offence by particular attentions. This is lord Gaythorn's malice, I do really believe, on purpose to retaliate on and torment me; however, be it as it may, my happiness for the evening is destroyed by their cautious forms; but since I am not allowed the pleasure of dancing with you myself, I am anxious to oblige my friend, and obtain that honour for lord Francis Loraine."
"With pleasure very much I would dance with his lordship," Julia replied, "did I at all purpose for dancing; butdo not, Mr. Fitzroy, hold me mortifyingly cheap, when I do tell for you, I was never to the ball in my whole life before. I know not of the forms and rules prescribed here; and though I have learned to dance, and have practised, certainly, a great quantity, it was only amongst girls, in a convent abroad; and I should be so very frightened
(yes, indeed, from my poor wits, I am sure quite), was I to stand up, among strangers so many. Of myself to take hands of people, whose very names I not knowand from want for custom to it-I should feel as if I had too much of courage, could I make attempt to do it. So, to-night, I will be observer only; and if, by seeing how others manage, I think I may venture too, why then, when again I do meet lord Francis at the ball, I shall delighted be extremely to dance with him; because I like him exceedingly more than I do almost any of the men I have met with; and he, too, I know, will tell to me when I go wrong way."
Fitzroy, with a countenance illumined by rapturous delight, attended to Julia, as, with bewitching naïveté, she told him of her inexperience in the customs of the world. Fervently he pressed her hand; and, with augmented tenderness, said"The next bail, Julia! If the canon law, by exalting me to greater happiness, does not prohibit my dancing with you myself, I will not resign your hand to lord Francis, or any other man in existence."
Julia's beautiful face was suffused with
timid blushes. The party now, arriving at the upper end of the ball-room, became stationary. Fitzroy was called upon to hand lady Gaythorn out, to begin the ball; and as he went, unwillingly, to perform his duty, he softly whispered Julia-" Oh! why am I thus called from listening, with delighted ears, to the fascinating, artless, ingenuous remarks of a mind so pure, so innocent, so unsophisticated in the ways of that world, in which, I trust, it will be my happiness to be your protector, and to see you hold a place not more elevated in rank than exalted by virtue!"
He now glided off to lady Gaythorn, and dancing commenced. The whole of the large party our heroine came with (except herself, Mrs. Goodwin, doctors Sydenham and Hargrave) joined the merry, active columns. Innumerable were the grotesque, absurd, laughable, and extraordinary figures and characters here exhibited in this motley assemblage; but the crowd, heat, and press of people, were so great, that discrimination was totally precluded; and Julia, from her attractive beauty, and other adventitious circumstances, was so much an object of gazing curiosity, that she narrowly escaped
being crushed to death by the admiring throng.
At length, lord Francis Loraine, in going to procure some tea for his partner, lady Diana Strictland, passed where our heroine stood in terror, stemming the torrent that pressed upon her. Instantly he extricated her from her dangerous situation, obtaining for her, and partners in distress, Mrs. Goodwin and doctor Sydenham, seats upon one of the back benches, quite out of the way of every annoyance, and where there was a free circulation of air from the open windows. The rescued sufferers were all gratitude to their kind deliverer, who, the moment he quitted them, said, with a smile
"I believe I have now accommodated every body:" and it was literally so; for Julia De Clifford now, in her elevated situation, could see every one, and every one could see her, to the greatest advantage.
Julia, having now a full view of those engaged in the amusement of the evening. beheld with amaze the languid lady Gaythorn dancing with the most striking animation and gaiety. Her ladyship, ever wishing to evince eccentricity, and make people wonder, now chose to throw off her
habitual supineness; and as the evening was sultry, the dancers innumerable, and scarcely room to move, to begin with Money-Musk, and dance it down with the true spirit it required, to the very bottom of the room, and not to let a couple, however inattentive, escape her fangs.
Fitzroy's was the dancing of a gentleman, and that to perfection; and Julia beheld him with the highest admiration; but Celestina Hargrave, with petticoats which fell, indeed, short of impeding the view of the spectator, and dancing with Charles Goodwin (a very graceful, agile youth), was the wonder and admiration of every beholder: and certainly even Duport himself might not have disdained her for a partner.
Fitzroy was kept upon such indefatig able duty, by his now gay, and always beautiful partner, that he could not steal one moment to speak to Julia; but his eager eyes strayed to gaze upon her, whenever it was possible.
And now a new bustle and crush amid the crowd commenced, to make way for the duchess-dowager of Springcourt and her party, whom Mr. Smith, like the dwarf of the Castle, was endeavouring to usher to