An excellent room now that we have these wonderful lights!’
When everyone had arrived, Mr Weston and Mrs Elton led them forward for the first dance. Emma was delighted to see so many people dancing and knew she was going to enjoy the evening, but she was sad to see that Mr Knightley did not dance. He stood with some of the older men and looked quite serious except when Emma caught his eye and then he smiled at her. She thought it was a pity he did not like either dancing or Frank Churchill a little better.
The last two dances before dinner had almost started and Harriet had no partner. She was the only young lady sitting down. Until then, the numbers had been equal and Emma could not understand what had happened, but then she saw Mr Elton walking about. He would not ask Harriet if he did not have to and Emma thought he might suddenly escape into the card room. But she was wrong.
Mr Elton stood in front of the place where Harriet was sitting and talked to other people, but he did not even look at her. Emma was quite near and when Mrs Weston came and spoke to him she heard every word.
‘You are not dancing, Mr Elton?’ she asked.
‘I certainly will, if you will dance with me.’
‘Me! Oh no, I was thinking of a better partner for you.’
‘Ah! Mrs Gilbert! Well, I am an old married man now and my dancing days are almost over, but I will be happy to dance with her,’ he said.
‘Mrs Gilbert does not dance, but there is a certain young lady — Miss Smith is not dancing,’ Mrs Weston explained.
‘Miss Smith,’ he said, ‘I did not see her. If only I were not an old married man! But I must be excused, Mrs Weston. I am afraid my dancing days are over.’
Mrs Weston said no more and Emma felt angry and upset for Harriet. She saw Mr Elton walk away and watched him and his wife smile at each other.
The next time Emma looked she saw a happier sight as Mr Knightley led Harriet to the dance. Emma felt very grateful to Mr Knightley and when she looked for Mr Elton she saw him going into the card room and hoped he felt foolish.
Emma did not have an opportunity to talk to Mr Knightley until after dinner.
‘They wanted to hurt both you and Harriet,’ he said. ‘Why are they your enemies?’
‘They cannot forgive me because I wanted Mr Elton to marry Harriet,’ she replied. ‘You were right about Mr Elton. I made a serious mistake,’ she said.
‘I think he has made a bigger one,’ he replied. ‘Harriet has some excellent qualities and she is very pleasant and easy to talk to. Unlike Mrs Elton!’
At that moment Mrs Weston called them in to start the dancing again. ‘Come, Emma, they are all lazy! You must start!’
‘Who is your partner?’-Mr Knightley asked Emma.
‘You, if you will ask me,’ she replied. ‘We are not exactly brother and sister after all!’
‘Brother and sister — certainly not,’ he said, and they walked into the ballroom together.