I'm currently working on translation of George Meredith's Diana of the Crossways (published in 1885). Here's one passage that I find especially challenging. I would be very grateful if someone could explain me the meaning of the expression "give them just the start over the frozen minute for conversation", most importantly "frozen minute" (I might be able to understand the rest of the expression if I understand these two words). Does the word frozen refer to some awkwardness two strangers might be experiencing?
At a Ball in Dublin, two men want to dance with Diana; both are unsuccessful, and she is led out by Mr. Redworth, an acquaintance of her friend Emma (who actually arranges it). One of the disapponted gentlemen tells Emma:
"'Favour can't help coming by rotation, except in very extraordinary circumstances, and he was ahead of me with you, and takes my due, and 'twould be hard on me if I weren't thoroughly indemnified.' Mr. Sullivan Smith bowed. 'You gave them just the start over the frozen minute for conversation; they were total strangers, and he doesn't appear a bad sort of fellow for a temporary mate, though he's not perfectly sure of his legs."
Thank you in advance!