How does Mansfield present Leila's thoughts before and during the ball?
Mansfield presents Leila's thoughts as buzzing with anticipation and excitement both before and during the ball. Being able use a narrative voice that captures how Leila feels and appears to the world, Mansfield is able to display the sense of energy that is such a part of Leila's world in term of her reactions to the ball:
EXACTLY when the ball began Leila would have found it hard to say. Perhaps her first real partner was the cab. It did not matter that she shared the cab with the Sheridan girls and their brother. She sat back in her own little corner of it, and the bolster on which her hand rested felt like the sleeve of an unknown young man's dress suit; and away they bowled, past waltzing lamp-posts and houses and fences and trees.
Mansfield is able to present Leila as one who is so excited about the ball that the cab acts as "her first real" partner.
Such zeal is described and drawn out during the ball, as well. The "burst of tuning from the drill hall, it leaped almost to the ceiling" is one such example. Leila's absorption of the excitement and energy of the powder room is another example of her intense feelings in being drawn into the ball. This continues with the discourse about "the beautifully slippery floor," pink satins, as well as Leila's recalling her boarding school dance lessons contribute to the energy that Leila feels in being at her first ball.
This excitement and willingness to capitulate to the moment is evident in the final passage of the story. Leila is shown to have chosen the love of the ball over the reality that the fat man articulates:
But presently a soft, melting, ravishing tune began, and a young man with curly hair bowed before her. She would have to dance, out of politeness, until she could find Meg. Very stiffly she walked into the middle; very haughtily she put her hand on his sleeve. But in one minute, in one turn, her feet glided, glided. The lights, the azaleas, the dresses, the pink faces, the velvet chairs, all became one beautiful flying wheel. And when her next partner bumped her into the fat man and he said, "Pardon," she smiled at him more radiantly than ever. She didn't even recognise him again.
The "ravishing tune" that is "soft, melting" allows her to smile "more radiantly than ever." It allows Leila to think about the moment rather than the reality that exists outside of it. Mansfield is able to show how zeal and delusion can help to silence judgment in the embrace of what is as opposed to what will be. Mansfield shows Leila's thoughts to exist in this paradigm.