The rest of the gentlemen being now in the room, Emma found herself obliged to turn from him for a few minutes, and listen to Mr. Cole. When Mr. Cole had moved away, and her attention could be restored as before, she saw Frank Churchill looking intently across the room at Miss Fairfax, who was sitting exactly opposite.
“What is the matter?” said she.
He started. “Thank you for rousing me,” he replied. “I believe I have been very rude; but really Miss Fairfax has done her hair in so odd a way—-so very odd a way—-that I cannot keep my eyes from her. I never saw any thing to outree!—-Those curls!-—This must be a fancy of her own. I see nobody else looking like her!—-I must go and ask her whether it is an Irish fashion. Shall I?—-Yes, I will—-I declare I will-—and you shall see how she takes it;--whether she colours.”
He was gone immediately; and Emma soon saw him standing before Miss Fairfax, and talking to her; but as to its effect on the young lady, as he had improvidently placed himself exactly between them, exactly in front of Miss Fairfax, she could absolutely distinguish nothing.
Before he could return to his chair, it was taken by Mrs. Weston.
“This is the luxury of a large party,” said she:--“one can get near every body, and say every thing. My dear Emma, I am longing to talk to you. I have been making discoveries and forming plans, just like yourself, and I must tell them while the idea is fresh. Do you know how Miss Bates and her niece came here?”
“How!—-They were invited, were not they?”
“Oh! yes—-but how they were conveyed hither?—-the manner of their coming?”
“They walked, I conclude. How else could they come?”