The gentlemen joined them; and soon after began the sweet expectation of a carriage, when a general spirit of ease and enjoyment8 seemed diffused9, and they all stood about and talked and laughed, and every moment had its pleasure and its hope. Fanny felt that there must be a struggle in Edmund’s cheerfulness, but it was delightful10 to see the effort so successfully made.
When the carriages were really heard, when the guests began really to assemble, her own gaiety of heart was much subdued11: the sight of so many strangers threw her back into herself; and besides the gravity and formality of the first great circle, which the manners of neither Sir Thomas nor Lady Bertram were of a kind to do away, she found herself occasionally called on to endure something worse. She was introduced here and there by her uncle, and forced to be spoken to, and to curtsey, and speak again. This was a hard duty, and she was never summoned to it without looking at William, as he walked about at his ease in the background of the scene, and longing12 to be with him.
The entrance of the Grants and Crawfords was a favourable13 epoch14. The stiffness of the meeting soon gave way before their popular manners and more diffused intimacies15: little groups were formed, and everybody grew comfortable. Fanny felt the advantage; and, drawing back from the toils16 of civility, would have been again most happy, could she have kept her eyes from wandering between Edmund and Mary Crawford. She looked all loveliness–and what might not be the end of it? Her own musings were brought to an end on perceiving Mr. Crawford before her, and her thoughts were put into another channel by his engaging her almost instantly for the first two dances. Her happiness on this occasion was very much a la mortal, finely chequered.