Chapter XIV.

“What loud uproar, bursts from that door?” COLERIDGE.

{Samuel Taylor Coleridge (English poet, 1772-1834), Rime of the Ancient Mariner (VII) line 592}

WE shall follow the example of the good people of Longbridge, its party-going inhabitants, at least, and discard, for the moment, all other topics, in order to give due justice to the expected ball at the Hubbards. It was understood that this house-warming was to be the most brilliant affair, of its kind, that had taken place, in the neighbourhood, within the memory of man. Mrs. Hilson and Miss Emmeline Hubbard had staked their reputations, for elegance and fashion, upon the occasion. The list of invitations was larger than any yet issued at Longbridge, and all the preparations were on a proportionate scale of grandeur.

About ten days before the eventful evening, Mrs. Hilson and Miss Emmeline were closeted with their intimate friends, Mrs. Bibbs and Mrs. Tibbs, engaged in drawing up a plan of operations for the occasion. Probably the ‘city-lady,’ as Mrs. Hilson always called herself, had invited the two friends as counsellors, more with a view of astonishing them by a display of her own views of magnificence, than from any idea that their suggestions would be of importance.

Miss Emmeline was seated, pencil in hand, with several sheets of paper before her, all ready, to take notes of the directions as they were settled. Mrs. Bibbs and Mrs. Tibbs were placed on a sofa; and Mrs. Hilson threw herself into a rocking-chair.

“In the first place, Emmeline,” said the ‘city-lady,’ “we must have boned turkey: put down boned turkey.”

“I thought you were going to make out the list of invitations first,” said the sister.

“Just put down the boned turkey, for that is absolutely necessary; and then we can run over the names.”

Miss Emmeline wrote as she was directed. A long list of names was then put down; there had already been a private family meeting upon the subject, at which, after many endeavours of Mrs. Hilson to unite the two advantages of extreme exclusiveism, and the largest number of invitations ever heard of at Longbridge, Mr. Hubbard had decided the matter by insisting that his daughters should ask every person who had ever been a guest at their house before, and all those from whom they themselves had accepted invitations.

“Don’t talk to me of fashionable people, and exclusives and inclusives — I choose to have all my old neighbours, do you hear, girls, and any one else you please.”

This was the only point upon which their father insisted; and as he left the expense of the arrangements entirely to themselves, the ladies thought it most prudent not to argue the matter. Instead, therefore, of aiming at having their party very select, it was now agreed that it should be very general.

“It will be a regular mob,” said Mrs. Hilson, as she finished reading to her sister scraps of lists of which her lap was full; “but with so large a visiting circle as ours, it was not to be avoided, I suppose. Have you put down the boned turkey, Emmeline? that at least will give to the entertainment an aristocratic character, at once.”

“Yes, to be sure, here it is,” said Emmeline, taking up another sheet of paper. “We must have boned turkey, of course.”

Now it so happened that neither Mrs. Bibbs nor Mrs. Tibbs, though such fascinating ladies, had ever seen, tasted, or heard of boned turkey before. But, of course, they did not confess such shameful ignorance. Boned turkey had never yet figured at a party at Longbridge. We say figured at a party, and we speak advisedly, as all must know who are aware of the all-important position occupied at an American party by the refreshments, in the opinion of both host and guests. The brilliancy of the lights, the excellence of the music, the wit and gallantry of the gentlemen, the grace and beauty of the ladies — would be of no avail in giving fame to a party if the refreshments were not as abundant, and as varied as possible. It is true these good things are generally excellent in their way, which is probably one reason why they receive so much attention. The highest distinction to be attained in these matters is the introduction of some new delicacy; next to this, is the honour of being one of the first to follow so brilliant an example; but, of course, those unfortunate individuals who have neglected to procure the favourite dainty of the season, after it has once appeared on fashionable tables, lose all claim to honourable mention, and sink beneath notice. In this way, each dish has its day; a year or two since, Charlotte Russewas indispensable at an entertainment; last winter Bombeswere in high request; and at the period of the Hubbard house- warming, Boned Turkeyhad received the place of honour on the New York supper-tables. People could neither flirt nor dance, they could talk neither pure nonsense, nor pure speculation, without the Boned Turkey in perspective. The fashion had indeed spread so far, that it had at last reached what Mrs. Hilson generally called her clique.

“Pa thinks we shall have some difficulty in getting boned turkey at this season; it is rather early; but I am determined to have it if money can procure it. You know I am very ambitious, Mrs. Tibbs — I am not easily satisfied.”

Mrs. Tibbs, a pretty little woman with light hair, wearing a fashionable lilac muslin, assented, of course.

“Taking for granted then, that we have the boned turkey, what shall we put down next?” asked Miss Emmeline. “Terrapin-soup, pickled-oysters, lobsters, chicken-salad, and anything in the way of game that can be found in the market; do you think that will do for the substantial dishes, Mrs. Bibbs?”

Mrs. Bibbs, a pretty little woman with black hair, wearing a fashionable green muslin, assented, of course.

“I think that will do, Emmeline,” said Mrs. Hilson; “a large supply of each, you know. By-the-bye we must have four dishes of boned turkey; nothing so mean as to have a small quantity.”

Then followed a long list of lighter delicacies; gallons of ice-cream with every possible variety of flavour; flour and eggs, cream and sugar, prepared in every way known to New York confectioners. Kisses and Mottoes were insisted upon. Then came the fruits, beginning with peaches and grapes, and concluding with bananas and other tropical productions, until at length even Mrs. Hilson’s “ambition” was thus far satisfied.

{“Kisses and Mottoes” = wrapped candies enclosing short witty verses or “mottoes” — ancestors of the “fortune cookie”}

“I think our set-out will have quite an aristocratic appearance, Emmeline; including, of course, the boned turkey. Then we must have colored candles, they are so much more tasty, all green and pink. Alonzo will secure the orchestra, the best in the city; -------’s band. We must have two dressing-rooms in the third story, one for the gentlemen, one for the ladies and a little fainting-room besides; the small east room will do for that we can put in it the easy-chair, with the white batiste cover I brought over from the city, with a pitcher of iced-water, and restoratives, all ready. It is always best, Mrs. Bibbs, to have a pretty little fainting-room prepared beforehand it makes the thing more complete.”

The lady in the green muslin agreed entirely with Mrs. Hilson; she thought it would be unpardonable not to have a fainting-room.

“The third story will be reserved for the dressing-rooms, the second entirely devoted to the supper and refreshments, and the first floor given up to the dancers and promenaders. I declare I shan’t know how to look if we can’t procure the boned turkey.”

The lady in the lilac muslin agreed that when everything else was so genteel, it would be unfortunate indeed to fail in the boned turkey.

The disposition of the furniture, the variety of lemonades, &c., was then settled, as well as other minor matters, when the four ladies sat down to write the invitations on the very elegant and fanciful note- paper prepared for the occasion.

“The first thing Ishall do, Emmeline, will be to write a letter expressly to Alonzo, to insist upon the confectioner’s procuring the boned turkey.”

We shall pass over the labours of the ensuing week, devoted to the execution of what had been planned. Various were the rumours floating about Longbridge in the interval; it was asserted by some persons that a steamboat was to bring to Longbridge all the fashionable people in New York; that it was to be a sort of “Mass-Meeting” of the “Aristocracy.” By others, all the fiddlers in New York and Philadelphia were said to be engaged. In fact, however, nothing was really known about the matter. Mrs. Bibbs and Mrs. Tibbs had confided all the details to a score of friends only, and every one of these had, as usual, spread abroad a different version of the story. We have it, however, on the best authority, that every day that week a letter in Mrs. Hilson’s handwriting, directed to the most fashionable cook and confectioner in New York, passed through the Longbridge post-office, and we happen to know that they were all written upon the negotiation for the boned turkey, which at that season it was not easy to procure in perfection.

The eventful evening arrived at length. The fanciful note-papers had all reached their destination, the pink and green candles were lighted, the fainting-room was prepared, the kisses and mottoes had arrived, and though last, surely not least, four dishes of boned turkey were already on the supper-table. Mrs. Bibbs and Mrs. Tibbs had gone the rounds with the two ladies of the house, and admired everything, after which they returned to the drawing-room. Mrs. Bibbs in blue, and Mrs. Tibbs in pink, were placed in full array on a sofa. Mrs. Hilson and Miss Emmeline stationed themselves in a curtseying position, awaiting their guests. Mr. and Mrs. Clapp, with Miss Patsey and Charlie, were the first to arrive. Our friend, Patsey, looked pleasant, good-natured, and neatly dressed, as usual; the silk she wore was indeed the handsomest thing of the kind she had ever owned — it was a present from Uncle Josie, who had insisted upon her coming to his house-warming. Patsey’s toilette, however, though so much more elegant than usual, looked like plainness and simplicity itself, compared with the gauzes and flowers, the laces and ribbons of Mrs. Tibbs and Mrs. Bibbs, who were sitting on the sofa beside her. Presently, a thin, dark, sober- looking young man walked in at a side-door; it was Alonzo, Mrs. Hilson’s husband. Honest, warm-hearted Mr. Hubbard soon followed, looking as usual, in a very good humour, and much pleased with the holiday he had provided for his daughters, and the satisfaction of seeing all his old friends in his new house, which he had prepared for himself. If ever there was a man who spoilt his children, it was Mr. Joseph Hubbard. Had he had sons, it might possibly have been different; but his wife had been a very silly, very pretty, very frivolous woman; the daughters resembled her in every respect, and Mr. Hubbard seemed to have adopted the opinion that women were never otherwise than silly and frivolous. He loved his daughters, laughed at their nonsense, was indulgent to their folly, and let them do precisely as they pleased; which, as he had made a fortune, it was in his power to do. As for Uncle Dozie, the bacheler {sic} brother, who had lived all his life with Mr. Joseph Hubbard, he was already in the drawing-room, seated in a corner, with folded arms, taking a nap. It was singular what a talent for napping this old gentleman possessed; he had been known to doze over a new book, pronounced by the papers “thrillingly interesting,” and “intensely exciting;” he has slept during a political speech, reported as one continued stream of enchaining eloquence, delivered amid thunders of applause; and now, under the blaze of astral lamps, and pink and green candles, while the musicians were tuning their fiddles, and producing all sorts of discordant sounds, he was dozing as quietly as if in his own rocking-chair. Uncle Dozie seldom talked when he could help it; the chief business and pleasure of his life consisted in superintending his brother’s vegetable-garden; he had never been known to take a nap among his beets and cabbages, which he seemed to admire as much. as he did his nieces. The vegetables, indeed, engrossed so much of his care and attention, that three times in the course of his life, he had lost by carelessness a comfortable little independence which his brother had made for him.

{“astral lamp” = a variety of Argand lamp (the brightest oil lamp of the period) especially designed to cast its light downward}

The company began to pour in. Mrs. Taylor and the talkative old friend were among the earliest, and took their seats on the sofa, near Miss Patsey, Mrs. Bibbs, and Mrs. Tibbs. Adeline, with the Saratoga fashionables, soon followed; having remained longer in the dressing- room, in order to wait until each could appear with a beau to lean on. The Longbridge élite arrived in large numbers; Uncle Dozie woke up, and Uncle Josie shook hands as his friends wished him many happy years in his new house. Miss Emmeline and Mrs. Hilson flitted hither and thither; while the dark and sober-looking Alonzo occasionally bent his head gently on one side, to receive some private communications and directions from his more elegant moiety. No one was received by the ladies of the house with more fascinating smiles, than a tall, slim Englishman, with a very bushy head of hair, who had made Mrs. Hilson’s acquaintance at their boarding-house not long since, and being tired of occupying a third or fourth-rate position in his own country, was now determined to show off what he thought airs of the first water, in this. He was just the attendant in whom Mrs. Hilson gloried.

“I think the West-End is fully represented here, this evening, Emmeline,” said the fair lady as she tripped past her sister, followed by Captain Kockney, after the rooms were uncomfortably full.

“Some very pretty women ‘ere, Mrs. ‘Ilson,” observed Captain Kockney; “that’s really a lovely creature just come in, and what a piece of ugliness it is alongside of her.”

“Miss Graham? Yes, she is our great beauty. Shall I introduce you?”

“Not now, for pity’s sake; wait till that ugly face has moved out of sight.”

“Do you think Miss Wyllys so very ugly? Perhaps she is; but she is one of our country neighbours, and I have seen her so frequently that I am accustomed to her appearance — indeed we are quite intimate. When one knows her, her conversation is excessively delightful; though she wants more association with city-life to appear to advantage.”

“Now, pray don’t introduce me there, I beg. I saw too many ugly women the last season I was at ‘ome. Our colonel had three daughters, ‘orrid frights, but of course we had to do the civil by them. It almost tempted me to sell out; they were parvenues, too — that made the matter worse, you know.”

{“parvenues” = upstarts (French)}

“Oh, yes, I hate parvenoos; I am thoroughly aristocratic in my nature. Indeed, it is a great misfortune for me that I am so, one is obliged, in this country, to come so often in contact with plebeians! I am afraid you must suffer from the same cause, while travelling in the United States.”

“What, from the plebeians? Oh, I made up my mind to that before I came, you know; I believe I shall enjoy the change for a time. One doesn’t expect anything else from you Yankees; and then I had a surfeit of aristocracy in London, the last season. We had half-a-dozen crowned heads there; and first one met them everywhere in town, you know, and then at every country-house.”

“How delightful it must be to live surrounded by royalty in that way!”

“There you’re quite out. It’s a great bore; one has to mind their p’s and q’s at court, you know I never go to Windsor if I can help, it.”

“Well, I should never tire of a court. I am thoroughly patrician in my disposition. I have a good right to such tastes, Captain Kockney, for I have a great deal of noble blood in my veins.”

“Now, really! what family do you belong to?”

“The duke of Percy; a noble family of Scotland. Pa’s name is Joseph P. Hubbard. Don’t you pity people who have no nobility in their families?”

“’Pon my soul, I don’t know how a man feels under such circumstances. It’s a queer sensation, I dare say.”

“Dr. Van Horne,” continued Mrs. Hilson, to a young man who came up to make his bow to her, “I have a great mind to ask a favour of you. Will you undertake to bleed me?”

“I should be sorry if you required my services in that way, Mrs. Hilson.”

“Ah, but it would be a real obligation; I want to get rid of all but my Percy blood. Perhaps you don’t know that our family is distinguished in its descent?”

“From ‘old Mother Hubbard,’” thought young Van Horne; but he merely bowed.

“Yes, our ancestors were dukes of Percy, who were beheaded in Scotland for being faithful to their king. It is very possible we might claim the title of a Scotch Peer.” Mrs. Hilson had read too many English novels, not to have a supply of such phrases at command. “If you could only find the right vein, I would insist upon your taking away all but my patrician blood.”

“Would not the operation leave you too perfect, Mrs. Hilson?”

“Perhaps it might make me vain. But it could scarcely unfit me more for living in a republic. How I wish we were governed by a despot! don’t you?”

“Not in the least,”. . .’but I wish you were,’ the young man added, to himself, as he moved away towards Jane and Elinor, who were in a corner talking to his sisters. “All the fools in this country are not travelled fools, as I wish my father would remember,” he continued, as he edged his way through the crowd.

“And he that aye has lived free  May not well know the misery,  The wrath, the strife, the hate, and all,  That’s compassed in the name of thrall.”

{I have not identified this verse}

“You have mustered quite a pretty set of little plebeians ‘ere to-night. Now, that’s quite a nice-looking little creature standing by the door,” continued Captain Kockney; “what do you call her?”

“Her name is Taylor — Adeline Taylor; they belong to the aristocracy too; shall I introduce you?”

“Is she married? If she is, I’ve no objections; but if she isn’t, I had rather not. It’s such a bore, you know, talking to girls — bread-and- butter misses!”

“How ungallant you are!”

“Ungallant! Why? I suppose you know it’s a settled thing that none of US talk to girls in society. Most of them are so milk-and-water, and the rest are so deep, they’re always fancying a man means something. Why, last spring we cut Lord Adolphus Fitz Flummery, of OURS, just because he made a fool of himself, dangling after the girls.”

“But don’t gentlemen ever speak to an unmarried lady in England?”

“The saps do but not your knowing ones. We make an exception though, in favour of a regular beauty, such as that little girl on the other side of the room; that Thomson girl, didn’t you call her?”

“Miss Graham you are difficult to please if nothing else will suit you. But of course it is natural for aristocratic minds to be fastidious.”

“To be sure it is, that’s what makes us English aristocrats so exclusive. If that little Graham girl comes in our way though, I’ve no objection to making her acquaintance. And if you have got a great fortune ‘ere to- night, I’ll make an exception for her; you may introduce me. Is there such a thing as an heiress in the room?”

“An heiress? No, I believe not, but Miss Taylor is quite a fortune.”

“Is she? Well then, you may introduce me there too. We have to do the civil to the rich girls, you know; because after a while most of us are driven into matrimony. That’s the governor, I take it, near the door.”

“The governor? Oh, no, our governor does not live at Longbridge.”

“Doesn’t he? Well, I thought you introduced him just now as the governor, and I fancied some one called him ‘Ubbard; that’s the governor’s name, isn’t it?”

“No, indeed. That’s Pa you are speaking of.”

“Just so that is what I said. You call your paternities Pa, do you? we always call the old fellows governors, in England.”

“Do you call your father Gov. Kockney? I did not know that governor was an English title; it sounds very plebeian in my ears.”

“Now, what doyou mean? ha! ha! you are delightful. You put me in mind of a good scene at the drawing-room, last June. Though, perhaps, you don’t know what the drawing-room is?”

“Oh, yes; I know that it means Court. My tastes are so exclusive, that I may say I have lived in English High-Life from the time I married, and became intimate with Mrs. Bagman. I feel quite at home in such scenes, for I read every novel that comes out with Lords and Ladies in it. What were you going to tell me about Court?”

The story was interrupted by Miss Hubbard, who tripped across the room to carry her sister off with her.

“Now you are not going, I hope? Why not stay ‘ere; I am sure this sofa is the most comfortable thing in the room.”

“I must go to receive some friends of mine, come over expressly from the city.”

“Pray, keep me clear of the cits! But now, if you will go, just leave me your bouquet as a consolation. Thank you. Oh, yes, I’ll take good care of it.”

“I hope you will, for it’s a ten dollar bouquet, and I’m very proud of it. You must not steal a single flower, mind.”

“Mustn’t I? Do you dare me?” and the agreeable Captain began to pull out several flowers. Mrs. Hilson, however, was hurried away.

Mr. Taylor, Mr. Hubbard, and Alonzo moved towards the sofa where she had been sitting.

“Do you think that Stewart will be chosen President of the Franklin Insurance?” inquired Mr. Hubbard.

“I think not, sir — he rather mismanaged the affairs of the Hoboken Bank. Lippincott will be the President, I take it. He has magnificent talents for business. You know he has purchased the thirty lots in 50th street, that were sold at auction, yesterday.”

“A good purchase, I should say.”

“How’s the Hoboken stock now?” inquired Alonzo. A murmuring about ‘five per cent.’. . . ’six per cent.’. . . ’par. . . ’premium,’ followed, and was only interrupted by the approach of young Van Horne and Elinor.

“I beg your pardon, Miss Wyllys,” said Mr. Hubbard, making room for her. “Oh, yes, Mr. Van Horne, here is a place for you, and another couple besides. Whom are you looking for?”

“Charles Hubbard, sir; I want him for a vis-à-vis.”

“Charlie is already placed, I see; but here is a gentleman; perhaps you would like to dance, sir?” addressing Captain Kockney, who was still in possession of the sofa and the flowers. “I hope my daughter has introduced you to some of the young ladies.”

“Now, really; if I am to dance, I prefer Mrs. ‘Ilson.”

And, accordingly, the Captain, by no means sorry to be forced to dance, rose with a victim-like look, half strode, half sidled towards Mrs. Hilson, and putting his elbow in her face by way of an invitation, led her to the quadrille. The contrast between these two couples, placed opposite to each other, was striking, and yet common enough in a mixed ballroom. Captain Kockney was desperately nonchalant, his partner full of airs and graces; their conversation was silly, ignorant, and conceited, beyond the reach of imagination. . . such things must be heard to be believed. Young Van Horne was clever, and appeared to less advantage in dancing than in most things. Elinor the reader knows already; it was a pleasure to follow her as she moved about with the happy grace which belonged to her nature. Her partner, half in joke, half in earnest, was engaging her interest with his father in behalf of the visit to Europe. Elinor promised to do all in her power; and they chatted away cheerfully and gaily, for they were young and light- hearted; and yet, even in a ball-room, they meant what they said, and knew what they were talking about, for both were sensible and well educated. Jane and young Bernard were next to Mrs. Hilson; Adeline and Charlie Hubbard next to Elinor. Miss Taylor had declared that she would allow no one but herself to fill the place opposite to Jane, causing by her decision no little flirtation, and rattling merriment; but, of course, this was just what the young lady aimed at. These two pretty, thoughtless creatures, the belle and the beauty, held a middle position between Mrs. Hilson and Elinor. Frivolous as they were, there was more latent good about them, than could be found in the ‘city lady,’ who was one frothy compound of ignorant vanity, and vulgar affectation. The class she represented was fortunately as small in its extreme folly, as that to which Elinor belonged, in its simple excellence.

Any one, indifferent to dancing or speculation, seeking amusement as a looker-on, would have been struck, at Uncle Josie’s house-warming, with the generally feminine and pleasing appearance of the women; there were few faces, indeed, that could be called positively ugly. Then, again, one remarked, that puerile as the general tone might be, mixed as the company was, there were no traces whatever of coarseness, none of that bold vulgarity which is so revolting.

There was a certain proportion of elderly men collected on the occasion — they were seen, with a few exceptions, standing in knots, talking great speculations and little politics, and looking rather anxious for supper, and the boned turkey. Of the mothers and chaperons, who filled the sofas, as representatives of a half-forgotten custom, some were watching the flirtations, others looking on and enjoying the gaiety of the young people. Both fathers and mothers, however, were very decidedly in the minority, and, according to American principles, they allowed the majority undisputed sway. The young people, in general, held little communication with their elders, and amused themselves after their own fashion; the young ladies’ bouquets afforded a favourite subject for small-talk; they were all carefully analysed . . . not botanically, but according to the last edition of that elegant work, the Language of Flowers, which afforded, of course, a wide field for the exercise of gallantry and flirtation.

{Probably, Frederic Shoberl (1775-1853), The Language of Flowers, (numerous editions, some published by the Cooper family’s regular publisher in Philadelphia) — but there were many similar books on the “poetic meaning” of different flowers}

Among the dancers, the four young ladies we have pointed out were acknowledged the most conspicuous. According to Mrs. Tibbs and Mrs. Bibbs, Jane’s was the most beautiful face in the room, although there were two or three competitors for the title; Adeline was pronounced the most successful of the rival belles; Mrs. Hilson the most elegant and airy; Elinor the plainest of the gay troop. Probably, most of those who thought about the matter, would have decided as the Longbridge ladies did although, on the point of Mrs. Hilson’s elegance, many would have protested. There was one person, at least, who followed Elinor’s graceful figure with partial interest; Miss Agnes found so much that was pleasing to her, in the fresh, youthful appearance of her adopted child in the simple good-taste of her white dress in the intelligence and character of her expression in her engaging manner, that she forgot to regret her want of beauty; she no longer wondered, as she had sometimes done, that Harry should so early have appreciated her niece. Those who knew Elinor thoroughly, loved her for the excellence of her character; strangers neglected her for any pretty face at her side; but every one thrown in her society, must have acknowledged the charm of her manner. This pleasing manner, however, so frank, yet so feminine, so simple, yet so graceful, was only the natural result of her character, and her very want of beauty. She was never troubled by the fluttering hopes and fears of vanity; she never seemed to think of effect; when in society, her attention was always given in the simplest and most amiable way to others. Forgetful of self, she was a stranger to every forward affectation, to every awkwardness of mauvaise honte; her good sense, her gaiety, a sweet disposition, and an active mind were allowed full play, under no other restraints than those of a good education; those of principle, and those of youthful, womanly modesty. Such was Elinor in the eyes of her aunt, but it must not be supposed that this was the general opinion of Uncle Josie’s guests; by no means; many remarks were made upon Miss Wyllys’s being so decidedly plain; and even her dancing was thought inferi some of the company to the more laboured graces of Mrs. Hilson, or the downright indifference of Adeline: as for Jane, she unfortunately never danced in time.

{“mauvaise honte” = bashfulness, false shame (French)}

At the proper moment supper was announced; the boned turkey appeared in full glory. “What is that?”. . . “Boned turkey”. . . “Shall I give you boned turkey?” “I’ll thank you for a little boned turkey”were sounds heard in every direction. It was very evident the boned turkey was fully appreciated, and gave great satisfaction thus putting the finishing touch to the pleasures of Uncle Josie’s house-warming. We must not forget to mention the mottoes, which were handed about in silver baskets, for, as usual, they caused many tender and witty speeches. This was a part of the entertainment in which Adeline delighted; Jane seemed quite satisfied with it, and Mrs. Hilson was in her element among these little bits of pink paper and sentiment.

Before the supper was more than half over, however, the rattling of spoons and plates, the requests for “boned turkey,” and the flirting over mottoes were suddenly interrupted, and everything hushed for a moment, by calls for a doctor! “Where is Dr. Van Horne?” “Have you seen Dr. A?” “There is Dr. B.”

“Alonzo, the fainting-room; remember,” said Mrs. Hilson.

But it proved to be none of the company who required a physician. A stranger, a sailor, some one said, who had been for the last week at a low tavern opposite, had been seized with a fit; Dr. Van Horne was soon found, and hastened to the relief of the sick man. The interruption was soon forgotten; the mottoes and boned turkey were again in demand. Dr. Van Horne did not return, however; his family went home without him; and Mrs. Clapp, on looking around for her husband, found that he also had disappeared.

“I saw Clapp going into the tavern last evening,” observed Uncle Josie. “Perhaps this poor fellow is some client of his; he may have gone to look after him.”

Mrs. Clapp was obliged to ask Uncle Dozie to accompany her home; and as he was no somnambulist, with all his napping, he carried his niece safely to her own door.

Miss Wyllys was one of those who left the house immediately after supper. Adeline and Jane ran up stairs before Elinor and herself like the Siamese twins, each with an arm encircling the other’s waist. The close intimacy between Jane and Adeline continued to surprise Elinor. She began to think there must be something more than common, something of the importance of a mystery which drew them so often together, causing so many confidential meetings. Even when the two girls were in society, she could not but observe that Adeline often made some allusion, or whispered some remark that seemed both pleasing and embarrassing to Jane. Miss Taylor was evidently playing confidante, and occasionally Jane appeared to wish her less open and persevering in the affair. As for Mrs. Graham, she was too much occupied with the care of her younger children to pay much attention to her daughter’s intimacies. She rather disliked Adeline and all her family, and Mr. Graham had a real antipathy for Mr. Taylor; still Jane was allowed to do as other young girls about her, select whom she pleased for her associates. Mrs. Graham was one of those mothers who devote themselves with great assiduity to the care of their childrens’ {sic} bodies, their food and raiment, pains and aches leaving all anxiety for their minds to the school-mistress, and their characters to themselves. With the eldest daughter this plan had succeeded very well; Louisa Graham was clever and well-disposed, and had taken of her own accord what is called a good turn; and Mr. Robert Hazlehurst had every reason to congratulate himself upon his choice of a wife. Mrs. Graham seemed to take it as a matter of course that the same system would succeed equally well with all her family. But Jane’s disposition was very different from her sister Louisa’s; she had no strength of character, and was easily led by those about her. The greatest fault in her disposition was thought by her family to be indolence; but Miss Wyllys sometimes wished that she had less selfishness, and more frankness.

{“Siamese twins” = Chang and Eng (1811-1874), born joined together in Thailand (Siam), of Chinese parents, who were exhibited in America for many years by P.T. Barnum; the condition was named after them}

Elinor was not a little startled at something which passed in Miss Hubbard’s dressing-room, between Jane and Miss Taylor, and which she accidentally overheard, before she was aware the conversation was confidential.

“Don’t pretend any longer, Jane, that you didn’t know it,” whispered Adeline, as they were stooping together over a bundle of hoods and shawls. Jane made no answer. “Now, confess that you knew he was serious before you left Paris.”

“I did not think much of it for some time,” said Jane.

“Well, I supposed from your letters that you knew long ago that he was desperately in love with you. Trust me, we’ll settle it all between us.”

“Oh, hush,” said Jane, “there is somebody coming. . . I know it’s wrong“

“Nonsense. . . wrong indeed! I should like to know where is the great harm if he does break his engagement?”

Elinor moved away when she found the conversation was meant to be private. But she had unintentionally heard enough to make her anxious for Jane. “Was not Adeline leading her into difficulty?” She felt uneasy, and thought of nothing else during her drive home. It would not do to consult Miss Wyllys; but she determined to speak to Jane herself, the first time she saw her. Unfortunately, her cousin was going to New York, and nothing could be done until she returned to pass a fortnight at Wyllys-Roof before going to town for the winter.