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Graham's Magazine, Vol. XXXIV, No. 5, May 1849 online

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Brussels cape that had been sent up by her modiste for her inspection.
“This is splendid, I declare! I’m glad Mrs. Puff thought of sending
this; it is exactly like one Mrs. Macfuss wore at the Ford’s fine
dinner, and so it must be the fashion. As I was saying, Mr. Jones, the
Hills were rather high with me last summer; I never could get them to
come over and be intimate. Now there’s Marian Fawney, as sweet a girl as
ever lived, I had only to tell her once, and we’ve been like sisters
ever since.”

“Yes; a little _too_ intimate for my good,” said Mr. Jones, as he
thought of the constant visits of all Miss Fawney’s family. “It may all
be very fine for you, Sally, and she may be a very good girl, but I
think she loves rich folks, and no others.”

“Well, and who don’t?” replied his wife, who felt herself subject to a
similar weakness. “Besides, Mr. Jones, her acquaintance has been an
advantage, consider that! I have no doubt but that through her influence
we shall have Mrs. Macfuss in our house before the season is out.”

“D—n Mrs. Macfuss!” exclaimed Mr. Jones, forgetting Chesterfield in his
indignation at the heart-aches she had given him and his helpmate. “You
expect the Saxons, too, I suppose! For they are as proud as the others,
and as grand in their notions.”

“The Saxons dine here on Monday,” said Mrs. Jones, with a look of
triumph. “They called this week, and I immediately asked them, reserving
the news for one of your cross humors, and you were just beginning one
at the Macfusses.”

Mr. Jones “unknit his threatening brow” and congratulated his wife upon
her cleverness. “And never mind, Sally,” continued he, forgetting to use
the more musical name of Sara, “I’ll pull down those Macfusses yet, with
the fortune I’m making; for I have sworn to be the wealthiest man in
——, and I don’t think Macfuss can say as much. I have the means before
me, and if Will can help, ‘there’s no such word as fail.’ Hurrah, Sally!
hurrah!”

Mr. Jones was like Richard, “himself again,” and almost upset the
chiffoniere in the middle of the room. His wife smiled benignantly upon
his playfulness, but thought it time to end his exhilaration where it
began; “for,” said she to herself, “if any one should hear him!” So she
dismissed him by reminding him of the hour, and Mr. Jones left his
Penates for his sanctuary, the counting-room. In his mind, if mind it
were, there was but one idea, the one of amassing wealth, and he was as
unlike that being of superiority, man, as the sloth to the bee. While
his limbs moved, while his fingers marked down the all-important
figures, his mind lay dormant, his soul stagnant; and forgetful of the
treasures that “neither rust nor moth doth consume, where thieves do not
break through nor steal,” he left uneared for the harvest which we are
bound to reap—the harvest of a good and useful life. Where his treasure
was, there also was his heart; but such things pass away, and will be
like a drop in the ocean; where then would lie the benefit of all this
toil, these struggles for the vain possessions of a passing world?

Equally heedless of _her_ real fortune, his wife proceeded to her duty
of _une grande toilette_. Calling her sable handmaid, she gave
directions for Master Pushaw’s outfit, upon this unusual occasion for
display.

“Dress him in the suit that came from the North, Cilla,” said she, with
an air of Zenobian authority. “I wish to take him with me. Be prompt,
and do not cross him, for he would cry, and I cannot have his face
swollen. It will disfigure him.”

There were few charms to destroy in Master Jones’s little dish-face, but
his mother descended to the front parlor with a Gracchi perception of
greatness in embryo, and walked up and down before the pier-glass until
her father’s softened image followed her. Sundry shrill screams had
found their way below, but as the injuries were entirely confined to
poor Cilla’s face and hands, Mrs. Jones was satisfied. She surveyed him
attentively, and the result was satisfactory; although Master Pushaw
looked very much as if he were about to mount Miss Foote for a race, or
a circus pony for a ride around the ring. His clothes were remarkable
for their gay color, and he wore a fools-cap, whose long gold tassel
swung to and fro as his motions grew animated. We have seen little
creatures dressed like, and resembling him—but they were not children.

Mrs. Jones was whirled off in triumph to Mrs. Hill’s. A pretty cottage,
elegantly but simply furnished, stood unmoved as the splendid equipage
dashed up to the front door. A servant opened it, at sound of the bell,
and answered in plain English that his mistress was “at home.” Mrs.
Jones descended the steps, and was ushered into the parlor. Still there
was no unusual stir about the place, the pretty portraits kept in their
frames on the wall, and the flowers remained unwithered at her approach.
Mrs Jones’s astonishment redoubled, and when Mrs. Hill entered the room,
her smiling, blooming countenance completed the disappointment of her
guest. Nay, her quiet manner, and indifference to the mass of ribbons,
flounces and embroidery that sat before her, gave Mrs. Jones nervous
twitches at the mouth, and she at length asked for Mrs. Hill’s little
boy, certain of seeing him, as Master Pushaw looked when he was not
“dressed in the suit that came from the North.”

But the nurse entered holding by the hand a beautiful boy, whose smooth,
fresh complexion was ornamented with only the bloom “Nature’s cunning
hand had laid on.” His costume was as unlike a fancy one as possible,
and Mrs. Jones felt the thorn deeper in her side, as his bright dark eye
rested boldly and scrutinizingly upon his visiter.

“What a funny cap!” exclaimed he, as it swung to and fro when Pushaw
turned his head.

“And so it is funny, dear!” replied the nurse with true Irish naiveté.

“Take the little boy with you, Charley, and get him a nice biscuit,”
said Mrs. Hill, and she felt relieved as the children left the room. “A
glass of wine will refresh you after the drive, Mrs. Jones,” continued
she, hoping to direct her attention to a different channel; and pulling
the bell, she ordered a tray of refreshment for her fashionable guest,
not fearing to display the contents of her pantry to such practiced
eyes.

Mrs. Jones swallowed a sponge cake, and washed it down with a mouthful
or two of wine; but it almost choked her, and she rose to go without
having dazzled Mrs. Hill with an account of her “elegant dinner-service,
and the splendid silver tea-set.” She remained imperturbable during the
enumeration of the parties Mrs. Jones had attended, and the invitations
she had been forced to decline, so bidding her hostess good morning, the
lady stepped into her carriage with a feeling of bitter disappointment,
“for” said she, “Mrs. Hill don’t look at all as though her husband were
doing a bad business. Mr. Jones must be mistaken; no woman on the verge
of poverty could ever look as undisturbed as she did this morning.”

No woman like Mrs. Jones _could_ have been cheerful under the sad
reverses of the young creature whom she chose to despise. _Her_ aim was
fashion—her idol wealth. Mrs. Hill cared for neither; she struggled to
preserve in adversity the happiness that had begun in prosperity. The
object of the visit she received was intelligible to her, and her only
emotion was one of pure amusement as she resumed her quiet rational
pursuits. Mrs. Jones would have disdained pleasures that occasioned no
display. Fanny felt grateful to the Giver of all good for the resources
that supplied the place of the worldly amusements in which she could no
longer afford to participate; and felt that however they may gratify for
a time, they leave, from their uselessness, a void in the heart.

That night, while she and her husband sat together in animated,
sprightly discourse over some work they had been reading, four people
were assembled around the centre-table in one of Mrs. Jones’s handsome
parlors. The lady herself, her husband, and Miss Fawney, with her
brother, a little snub-nosed, purple-visaged fellow, conceited, of
course, and fond of talking.

Mrs. Jones held a pencil in her hand. Before her lay a _portfeuille_ of
unexceptionable shape and hue, and on a sheet of satin paper she was
writing a list of the guests to be invited to a ball Miss Fawney thought
it advisable for her to give. It was a popularity party, but as she
catered for patronage that needed notes from the élite, not from the
vulgar, it was a very exclusive affair.

“Every thing shall be perfectly _elegunt_, Marian—so be as select as
you please, my love, I fear no rivalry in business like this; Mrs.
Macfuss shall see herself at home, if she accepts,” said Mrs. Jones,
raising her head proudly, and smiling as she concluded.

“That’s right, Sara!” said her husband, stroking his small crop of
whiskers. “Go the whole hog, and give us something out of the way.” (Mr.
Jones was forgetting Chesterfield, decidedly, but then he had not so
much need to learn refinement, since his rise in the world.)

“Do mind him for once, Mrs. Jones, although you ladies don’t love
obedience to the conjugal yoke,” observed Mr. Fawney, screwing up his
face to refrain from laughing at his own wit. “All the young men in town
are wishing that you would give a party. They know what they may expect,
I can tell you.”

“Do they, indeed?” said the lady, expanding. “Then lose no time, Marian
Fawney, I leave the invitations to you, for you know none but the first
people here, and we can ask as many as you will write down. I give you
_coorte blonche_.”

“Will you, dear Mrs. Jones,” cried she, embracing that lady with great
affection, and filled with delight at the commission given her. “How
kind of you to leave every thing to me! But then you know how much I
feel—” Miss Fawney here wept a little, and wiping her eyes and
snuffling, resumed: “Now we’ll begin with—the Macfusses, of
course—then the Fentons—”

“But none of them have called on Sara,” interrupted Mr. Jones.

“But they will—I know that they intend it. Mrs. Macfuss told me the
other day that Mrs. Jones entered a room like a Parisian, and that her
dress was perfect!” said Marian.

This appeased Mr. Jones, and so enraptured his wife, that it was a pity
it was not true; but Miss Fawney told an untruth so gracefully that
falsehood became in her _plus belle que la belle verité_.

“Shall Mrs. Hill be invited?” asked she in a tone that plainly demanded
a negative.

“Might as well,” said Mr. Jones, picking his teeth with fashionable
ease.

“Poor thing!” sighed Miss Fawney, while her face lengthened as she
assumed a look of compassion, “does she go out this winter?”

“Mrs. Jones says her husband does a bad business this season,” observed
Mrs. J. “She can’t get a ball-dress, what’s the use of tempting her?”

“Ever principled, my dear Mrs. Jones!” cried Miss Fawney, much affected
a second time, but restraining her tears. “However, she might borrow one
from her sister,” continued she, feeling that the more she dwelt upon
Mrs. Hill’s reverses, the less inclined Mrs. Jones was to be polite to
her.

“D—n it, let ’em come!” said the master of the house, conscious of no
reason for slighting people who were never rude. “What’s the difference
to Sally how they dress! She don’t lose by it, does she?”

“You have such a kind heart!” cried Marian, taking his hand, and gazing
upon him with a look of two-fold approbation; but Mr. Jones turned away,
wondering inwardly “what in heaven’s name the girl was forever crying
about!”

“Come, Sara, decide! shall the invitation be written, or not?” said he,
somewhat impatiently.

“No!” said the lady, positively, for she had just remembered Mrs. Hill’s
indifference to her costly silk, her new carriage, and Pushaw’s fancy
cap.

* * * * *

“Fanny,” said Miss Seymour, as she stepped from her carriage one evening
at her sister’s door, “come with me, wont you? I am going to drive on to
the city, having some _emplettes_ to make, and we can call on Mrs. Jones
as we return. The sound of her silvery voice will re-animate you this
evening, for you do not look so well.”

Mrs. Hill was not as cheerful as was her wont, for her prospects did not
brighten, and she had been sitting on the steps, thinking, until a few
tears rolling over her sweet face, left their glaze, and did not escape
Eda’s eye of affection. Ever willing to oblige, however, and anxious to
resume her usual looks, before her husband should return to mark and
grieve over her sadness, she assented.

“You must wait awhile, Eda, until I change my dress; I must put on a
more ceremonious costume, for Mrs. Jones has ceased asking me to ‘come
over and be intimate’ since my fortunes are changing. This satin de
laine would be an insult after the magnificence with which she assailed
me two weeks ago? Can you give me time to make _une toilette soignée_?”

“Certainly,” said Miss Seymour, seating herself and taking her little
nephew on her lap, “although you require but a slight change in my
humble opinion, to present yourself at Mrs. Jones’s door.” Fanny smiled
and hastened in; but soon returned, looking pretty enough to make the
fine lady jealous, in despite of her simple attire. She had that real
elegance of manner which Mrs. Jones so much admired in herself, but
could not see in others that failed to prosper in the world’s
estimation.

She was “at home,” the servant said, and they were ushered in by an
African damsel, in washing attire. Her clothes were looped about her
waist like a _blanchisseuse_, and she displayed a pair of ebony legs
ending with wide, naked feet. Her drapery was not like her mistress’s
company, “select,” but seemed to hold the accumulated dust and dirt of
the house.

Seated in the parlors, the sisters had leisure to contemplate the
contents of the apartment they had often heard described. Two portraits
hung opposite. One represented Mrs. Jones in ball costume, giving the
finishing touch to her toilette. On her lap was a very work-box looking
casket, out of which she was taking a string of most unequivocal
wax-beads, supposed to resemble pearls.

Mr. Jones sat bolt upright, with a book in his hand, looking very
learned, and very much puzzled about some weighty question.

But what struck them most was, that on the tables in the corners, stood
cake-baskets, covered with doilies, and candlesticks innumerable were
disposed about the room, with unlit candles, and curled paper wound
around them. Some of the baskets contained cake that plainly looked,
“don’t touch me yet,” and we forgot to mention a tub of rather muddy
water that stood in the middle of the folding-doors, on a large
oil-cloth, as though the dark damsel, with the very short garments, had
been interrupted in the act of scouring paint at this untimely hour.

“Mrs. Jones has scrubbing done at a strange time,” said Eda, pointing to
the implements before mentioned.

“Hush, Eda! I’m sure that we have called at a very wrong hour,” said
Fanny, pointing in her turn to the cake and candles. “Does not that look
like a bidding of guests to the banquet hall?”

“It does, indeed. What have we done, Fanny? How could we know of such
preparations when the stupid girl said her mistress was at home? The
idea of scouring at such an hour, too! Housekeeping should be like the
mechanism of the clock—we know that it goes, but do not see the
operation. When was our house ever seen in such a trim by visiters?”

“In such an _un_trim, you mean to say,” said Fanny; “but pray do not
laugh, Eda, it is like hypocrisy to do so now, that we have given
ourselves the trouble of coming to see Mrs. Jones.”

“You are too good, Fanny; but if you keep your face serious in that
absurd way, striving to practice what you preach, I shall shriek out,”
replied her sister. “Do laugh, if you feel like it.”

“No, Eda, no!” said Fanny, trying to look grave. “Do not make me act
rudely. _We_ have made the mistake, for we live in the country and hear
none of these ‘fine ladies’ doings.”

“Pshaw! Mrs. Jones cannot give a party without _my_ hearing of it; she
owes me the invitation, and you also.”

“I never shall expect one,” said Mrs. Hill, smiling, and the servant
entered to ask “if Miss Seymour were in the parlor.”

“Miss Seymour and Mrs. Hill,” said Eda, wondering what was to come next.

“Well, then, marm, Miss Sarly say, (and I told her it was you and Mrs.
Hill, too,) that she’s been busy all day, and can’t see no company.
Here’s a ticket for you to come to the party. Miss Sarly say she never
had no time to send it out in the country, but long’s you are here, she
told me to fotch it down. They a’nt none for you marm,” turning to
Fanny.

This new way of sending invitations was, in reality, ignorance on the
part of poor Mrs. Jones. She had not yet been out as far as Mr.
Seymour’s country-seat, and thought it an excellent idea to take
advantage of Eda’s presence in the house. The neglect of Mrs. Hill was
intentional, as we have seen, but it was _now_ difficult to say which
was most uncontrollable, Eda’s indignation, or her sister’s amusement.

“I have a mind to send it back to her,” cried Eda, in French. “What
gross impertinence!”

“Ignorance, sister; she knew no better, and I told you I expected
nothing from Mrs. Jones,” said Fanny. “Do let us go, dear Eda! I cannot
help it now, I must laugh! Come”—and she led the way out, observing
that she ought to forgive it, as Mrs. Jones had not yet unlearned her
_habitudes de chaumière_. The door stood open, and behind it was Mrs.
Jones, intent upon hearing what comments were passed by Mrs. Hill, when
she found herself “neglected.” She had the great satisfaction of knowing
that she was seen, for Fanny’s merry eyes rested full upon her; and she
was somewhat disappointed as she heard the sweet, silver laugh that
echoed behind them as the carriage rolled away.

This was not pleasant, but Mrs. Jones remembered that Mrs. Hill saw no
one now, “and, of course, Miss Seymour wont come when her sister is not
invited. I wish I had not kept on this old gown, since they spied me
out; but, lor! it don’t make any difference. I wonder what they said,
too; I couldn’t tell from here.”

She asked Cilla; but Cilla replied that “they didn’t talk Merrican, and
how could _she_ understand? But I tell you what, Miss Sarly, I didn’t
like to invite one ’thout tother; and I felt very oncomfortable ’bout
it, too!”

So Cilla had the advantage over her mistress in good feeling at least,
but she was told to hold her tongue and go to her work, and no one was
ever the wiser by it. But as we wish to give only an account of the rise
of Mr. and Mrs. John Johnson Jones, we must pay less attention to the
little incidents of every-day life.

To have slighted Mrs. Hill, “whose husband did a bad business,” was one
triumph—to have secured Eda’s non-attendance, another. But to receive
Mrs. Macfuss’s acceptance, was one worthy of the gods! This joyful blow
was too much for Mrs. Jones’s nervous system! She had the paint
rescoured, and Cilla, much discomforted, observed (out of her lady’s
hearing, of course,) “that if cos Mrs. Makefuss is a comin’ I has to do
all my work over, I wish, (oh, my sakes! if Miss Sarly could hear me!)
she’d a kept her ’ceptance to herself. Here’s Miss Sarly almost out her
head, and when the ’oman _do_ come, she’ll be crazy as a coot—and coots
is bad off for sense.”

Cilla was not far wrong. When Miss Fawney communicated the intelligence
that an acceptance was to be sent on the morrow, Mrs. Jones ran about in
playful bewilderment and relieved herself a little by adding some
extra-artificials to her dress. She borrowed more candlesticks and
lamps, and had some idea of illuminating the house from attic to cellar,
ordering lanterns to be hung at the gate, that Mrs. Macfuss might not
mistake. “And now, Marian, my dear child,” continued she, turning to her
convenient friend, “do tell me what Mr. and Mrs. Macfuss like best to
eat. What more _can_ I have on my table that they would relish? I know
they always have the finest of every thing—think well now, and let me
know.”

Miss Fawney was a little puzzled at first, but suddenly recollected what
she liked most herself, so informed Mrs. Jones that Mr. Macfuss was very
fond of _pâté de foie gras_, and also of oyster gumbo.

“The gumbo I have prepared, my love, of course; but the potty dee foy
graws I had almost forgotten. Gourmand has quantities of potties, as he
is a Frenchman, and imports those articles from Paris direct. I think
you said Mrs. Macfuss liked sherbet and lemon ice cream?”

No; Miss Fawney liked vanilla best, and affirmed that Mrs. Macfuss was
very partial to it.

“Is she, indeed! Oh, Marian, I had ordered lemon!” cried Mrs. Jones, in
dismay. “Come, we’ll go to Praline’s this instant and reverse it. And
those pine apples. They must be rich. Smith! have the carriage round
immediately; I’ll go up and put on my bonnet, Marian;” and when Mrs.
Jones arrived at Praline’s her heart dilated as she saw in how much
consideration she was held by her confectioner and his wife. They were
all smirks and smiles, particularly as she constantly repeated “you know
now, Mrs. Praline, that I mind no expense whatever.” And Miss Fawney
called her an extravagant creature! “But I knew, Mrs. Jones, that when
you did give a party, it would be a magnificent affair!”

And so, indeed, it proved. The weather was fine and everybody came. Mrs.
Macfuss meeting her own set, and seeing so much display, was reconciled
to her new acquaintance. Mr. Macfuss, seeing a magnificent supper and
drinking the finest of wines, shook hands with his host, and asked him
to come and see him sociably.

There was a pleasant combination of things. The host and hostess said
they never would regret the ball, and Miss Fawney was profuse in her
congratulations. At length they had reached the goal, and began to feel
with Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Crummles, the sweets of popularity.

Mrs. Jones who heard soon after to say that she had scarcely time to
take her meals, people so thronged the house; and before she was quite
aware of it, she had asked Mrs. Macfuss to come over and be intimate!

* * * * *

One evening, as Mrs. Hill and her brother stood together at the gate of
her pretty cottage, a handsome equipage dashed by, filling with dust the
mouths of the plebeian pedestrians on either side of the smooth road
through Summerfield.

Two ladies were on the back seat, while in front sat two little boys,
looking very gravely at one another. The driver had on a coat filled
with brass buttons—and this was called a livery; so the whole effect
was very grand and imposing.

“Who was that, Fanny?” said young Seymour; “whose carriage is that?”

“The carriage belongs to Mrs. John Johnson Jones, brother. Did you not
see her?”

“I did not recognize her—she bowed, did she not?”

“Not she, my good sir; she never bends so low. Could you not see how
stiff the lady was?”

“Then who did bow to you just now?”

“Mrs. Macfuss,” said Fanny, smiling archly.

“Whew! Whose little innocents were those in front?”

“Master Pushaw Jones and Master Johnny Macfuss.”

Mr. Seymour paused.

“Fanny,” said he at length, “I’ll go to Texas. I see that Mrs. Macfuss
has been over, and is intimate!”

* * * * *




LINES TO AN IDEA THAT WOULDN’T “COME.”


BY FRANCES S. OSGOOD.


“Why thus longing, thus forever sighing
For the far off, unattained and dim?

“Has Hope like the bird in the story,
That flitted from tree to tree,
With the talisman’s glittering glory.
Has Hope been that bird to thee?”


Oh! fondly wished for, why delay?
This virgin page awaits thee—
It’s waited since the dawn of day—


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Online LibraryVariousGraham's Magazine, Vol. XXXIV, No. 5, May 1849 → online text (page 2 of 15)