No, I have not yet received a reply from Edward, but really, I think this would be quite early indeed! Almost no gentleman is a prompt correspondent – now do not go telling me about Everett’s letter-writing habits, if they would serve to contradict me!
You will remember Miss Thurston, of the lovely porch, who was so charming? She was so kind as to invite me to a kind of a folk dance, held on one of the neighbouring ranches. How happy I was to see her note! By dint of leaving my desk now and then, I have discovered that one reason why Mr. Ridgetop is so perennially late back to his desk may be that he often seems to be stopping and speaking with someone or other. Now what could make me feel lower about still not having found a small circle for myself within Kingstowne society? Miss Thurston’s note came at just the right time.
Well, it did come only one day before the dance, so despite Mrs. Brougham’s many proclamations and urgings, a more suitable costume than my new riding habit was not to be obtained. But I am happy enough in my habit – it is no gown, yet becomes me well enough I think.
So I was under-dressed for the dance, but I had a fine evening! Lorenzo was almost gallant-seeming as he carried me there; the other guests, and above all the young ladies, arrived by carriage or wagon, but no one seemed to look twice at me. At least I could not tell if they did, being out after dark, with nothing but lanterns and firelight. Some young man appeared to take Lorenzo’s reins, and I had no trouble finding Miss Thurston at all, given her pale blonde hair. She seemed most glad to see me, and her parents, too, came over to greet me.
The dance floor was a beaten square outside a great, trim barn, not the kind of barn that seems about to peacefully crumble but the sort that speaks of industry, and energy. The lights and the bon-fire were almost too much on a warm night. I think they were more festive than anything else.
Miss Thurston introduced me to a number of persons, whose faces amounted to a blur between line dances. I had to learn quickly (and I dearly hope I have learned enough to acquit myself better next time) but then there were the country dances more after the style you and I know, with all the hanging about on the sidelines that entails, and consequently more conversation. I cannot say I entered into it much, surrounded by I was by a dozen young ladies and gentlemen who had known each other practically all their lives! But I shall do my best to get to know them. And I did dance at least five dances – the young men behaved quite handsomely.
I won’t say whether anyone compared to Edward, for the very thought of such comparison seems silly. However, I do at least remember some names. There was a Gregory Henlow, or Harlowe, who did not talk too much about himself as some of them do, but asked me plenty of questions about England. He appeared to have an interest in dirigibles. And a Mr. Matheson, very much occupied by his wife on his arm – so I did not dance with him – in whose expressions there was often something droll, as Mrs. Matheson chattered away. There was also a Miss Dell, who was certainly the belle of the whole dance, a real beauty with masses of black hair. I do not know what it is, Kate, but as so often when I see a beautiful lady, I have this presentiment that she and I shall never be anything more than polite to one another. This is how I felt with Miss Dell, even as I could hardly stop looking at her.
Scarcely could I believe it when I fell into my own bed at almost one o’clock in the morning! And I had not been among the first to leave, but I had also been far from the last. I crept around getting Lorenzo back into his box stall, and crept back over to the inn and up the stairs, and I do believe that as I did these things there may have still been people dancing!
Now here I am the following evening, ready to turn in very early indeed. I sent a note off to Miss Thurston thanking her, and saying that I had a wonderful time – I did want to make sure she knew it, since I begged off earlier than she did. If I had stayed any longer I am sure I would have been entirely, instead of mostly, useless at work.
All-in-all, it was worth the trouble of poking one’s head out of the house.