Mrs. Perkin's Ball, by William Makepeace Thackeray

Cavalier Seul.

Cavalier Seul.

This is my friend Bob Hely, performing the Cavalier seul in a quadrille. Remark the good-humored pleasure depicted in his countenance. Has he any secret grief? Has he a pain anywhere? No, dear Miss Jones, he is dancing like a true Briton, and with all the charming gayety and abandon of our race.

When Canaillard performs that Cavalier seul operation, does HE flinch? No: he puts on his most vainqueur look, he sticks his thumbs into the armholes of his waistcoat, and advances, retreats, pirouettes, and otherwise gambadoes, as though to say, “Regarde moi, O monde! Venez, O femmes, venez voir danser Canaillard!”

When De Bobwitz executes the same measure, he does it with smiling agility, and graceful ease.

But poor Hely, if he were advancing to a dentist, his face would not be more cheerful. All the eyes of the room are upon him, he thinks; and he thinks he looks like a fool.

Upon my word, if you press the point with me, dear Miss Jones, I think he is not very far from right. I think that while Frenchmen and Germans may dance, as it is their nature to do, there is a natural dignity about us Britons, which debars us from that enjoyment. I am rather of the Turkish opinion, that this should be done for us. I think . . .

“Good-by, you envious old fox-and-the-grapes,” says Miss Jones, and the next moment I see her whirling by in a polka with Tom Tozer, at a pace which makes me shrink back with terror into the little boudoir.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00