However, Mr Swiveller had Miss Sophy's hand for the first quadrille (country-dances being low, were utterly proscribed) and so gained an advantage over his rival, who sat despondingly in a corner and contemplated the glorious figure of the young lady as she moved through the mazy dance. Nor was this the only start Mr Swiveller had of the market-gardener, for determining to show the family what quality of man they trifled with, and influenced perhaps by his late libations, he performed such feats of agility and such spins and twirls as filled the company with astonishment, and in particular caused a very long gentleman who was dancing with a very short scholar, to stand quite transfixed by wonder and admiration. Even Mrs Wackles forgot for the moment to snubb three small young ladies who were inclined to be happy, and could not repress a rising thought that to have such a dancer as that in the family would be a pride indeed.
At this momentous crisis, Miss Cheggs proved herself a vigourous and useful ally, for not confining herself to expressing by scornful smiles a contempt for Mr Swiveller's accomplishments, she took every opportunity of whispering into Miss Sophy's ear expressions of condolence and sympathy on her being worried by such a ridiculous creature, declaring that she was frightened to death lest Alick should fall upon, and beat him, in the fulness of his wrath, and entreating Miss Sophy to observe how the eyes of the said Alick gleamed with love and fury; passions, it may be observed, which being too much for his eyes rushed into his nose also, and suffused it with a crimson glow.
'You must dance with Miss Chegs,' said Miss Sophy to Dick Swiviller, after she had herself danced twice with Mr Cheggs and made great show of encouraging his advances. 'She's a nice girl--and her brother's quite delightful.'
'Quite delightful, is he?' muttered Dick. 'Quite delighted too, I should say, from the manner in which he's looking this way.'
Here Miss Jane (previously instructed for the purpose) interposed her many curls and whispered her sister to observe how jealous Mr Cheggs was.
'Jealous! Like his impudence!' said Richard Swiviller.
'His impudence, Mr Swiviller!' said Miss Jane, tossing her head. 'Take care he don't hear you, sir, or you may be sorry for it.'
'Oh, pray, Jane --' said Miss Sophy.
'Nonsense!' replied her sister. 'Why shouldn't Mr Cheggs be jealous if he likes? I like that, certainly. Mr Cheggs has a good a right to be jealous as anyone else has, and perhaps he may have a better right soon if he hasn't already. You know best about that, Sophy!'
Though this was a concerted plot between Miss Sophy and her sister, originating in humane intenions and having for its object the inducing Mr Swiviller to declare himself in time, it failed in its effect; for Miss Jane being one of those young ladies who are premeturely shrill and shrewish, gave such undue importance to her part that Mr Swiviller retired in dudgeon, resigning his mistress to Mr Cheggs and converying a definance into his looks which that gentleman indignantly returned.
'Did you speak to me, sir?' said Mr Cheggs, following him into a corner. 'Have the kindness to smile, sir, in order that we may not be suspected. Did you speak to me, sir'?
Mr Swiviller looked with a supercilious smile at Mr Chegg's toes, then raised his eyes from them to his ankles, from that to his shin, from that to his knee, and so on very gradually, keeping up his right leg, until he reached his waistcoat, when he raised his eyes from button to button until he reached his chin, and travelling straight up the middle of his nose came at last to his eyes, when he said abruptly,
'No, sir, I didn't.'
`'Hem!' said Mr Cheggs, glancing over his shoulder, 'have the goodness to smile again, sir. Perhaps you wished to speak to me, sir.'
'No, sir, I didn't do that, either.'
'Perhaps you may have nothing to say to me now, sir,' said Mr Cheggs fiercely.
At these words Richard Swiviller withdrew his eyes from Mr Chegg's face, and travelling down the middle of his nose and down his waistcoat and down his right leg, reached his toes again, and carefully surveyed him; this done, he crossed over, and coming up the other legt and thence approaching by the waistcoat as before, said when had got to his eyes, 'No sir, I haven't.:'
'Oh, indeed, sir!' said Mr Cheggs.