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Page) quently superseded by boots : the
Empress's cordonnier manufactures them either in yellow leather or in soft
English leather, black, violet, or green, according to the color of the jupons.
It is scarcely necessary to mention that the color of the stockings should match
that of the boots.
Fig. I. Dress for the
Sea-side.—Robe of saffron-colored taffeta, ornamented on the skirt with two
passemeuterie trimmings. The dress is worn over an alpaca jupon, vandyked, and
alternating with blue and white stripes. The long vest is provided with blue
cuff, and lapels, completed by buttons and braudebourgs. White waistcoat, Louis
XV. Tuscan hat, decorated with eagle and ostrich feathers. Lilac bottines russes,
with high heels.
Fig. 2. Dress for a Young
Lady.—Silk robe of white spotted foulard. The skirt is trimmed with an
ornamental ruching placed between two rows of fluted ribbon; and the basque and
sleeves are furnished with a similar ruching. Bonnet of mauve crape, the quiet
appearance of which is somewhat enlivened inside and outside by the addition of
four white marguerites half buried in the crape.
Fig. 3. Walking Dress.—Dark green
silk dress, ornamented with bows of corded silk and tassels; a similar but
smaller bow is attached to the shoulder and falls on the sleeve. The collet is
of black guipure, forming, with the rich black lace pelerine trimmed with jet, a
most elegant pardessus. Black horse-hair bonnet, the trimming of which is
composed of rich Magenta velvet mixed with black lace and ivy-leaves; a narrow
jet fringe descends from the edge of the chapeau.
IN A NUT-SHELL.
"I say, Rose, girls are a
nuisance! — aren't they?" said Raymond Dexter, Iounging at length among the
silken cushions in his sister's boudoir one morning. " I wouldn't give that
!"—with a snap of his aristocratic fingers—" for the whole crew, so far as I
know any thing about them !"
"When did you see Victoria last?"
questioned Rose, with an expressive lifting of her pretty brows.
She was pretty, indeed--a dainty
snowy and pink piece of prettiness.
Her brother, Raymond Dexter, was
what the ladies called a "love of a man ;" effeminately hand-some and
fastidious, sporting white hands and per-fumed locks, yet a full-statured man
physically, with a broad white brow that ought to have had intellect under it,
and a deep dark eye that ought to have flashed with the language of an energetic
and cultivated vitality.
The flash came transiently as his
sister spoke; and he said, with some impatience,
" Victoria Field is the greatest
nuisance of them all!"
Victoria Field was the name of
the latest edition of womanhood that Raymond Dexter had had a grand passion
for—a plain, dark woman, without even what Rose called '' style." The last woman
in the world, one would have thought, for an exquisite like Raymond Dexter to
fall in love with. Yet he had deliberately done so foolishly as that, as Rose
had shrewdly suspected.
Victoria Field was at the bottom
of the astounding opinion he had just expressed concerning " girls."
Rose, however, was far from
apprehending the extent of the mischief. She would have opened her languid blue
eyes to much more than their usual dimensions if she had known that Miss
Field—that plain, dark girl, with no style, and no beauty, and no expectations,
so far as any body knew—had re-fused to become the wife of her brother
Raymond—positively refused. Nay more, and which rankled in his consciousness
still, when he, totally at a loss to understand such perversity toward
invincibility like his, asked and politely pressed for a reason for her refusal,
instead of telling him, as she had a perfect right to do, that her reasons were
no concern of his, she rose and asked him, with that outspokenness which was one
of her charms for him, if he expected her to give him her sole and only reason,
or— Ile knew that that pause meant that if she could not give him the true
reason she should not give any; besides, as was natural, he wanted the truth, of
She crossed the room then, and
took from the window, where it hung, a little crystal flask and brought it to
him, put it in his hand, and stood looking at him with a sweet, grave, half sad
She had beautiful eyes!
The flask was one of those toys
with which some curious people amuse themselves. We have all heard of or seen
such, I dare say. An acorn suspended by a thread from the mouth of the flask
within had sprouted in that narrow compass and become an oak—an oak truly, but
in miniature, dwarfed, and of course could only, its present brilliancy past,
drag on a sickly existence, and die at last in such confined quarters.
Holding it so between his
hands—awkwardly enough, too, considering that lie was Raymond Dexter—Miss Field
could hardly help seeing that her shaft had sped home. "What if 1 should break
the flask ?" he said, with a sudden abruptness and brevity surprising to
"I wish you would," she said,
eagerly, her hand falling lightly upon his arm. He stole a swift glance at the
grave, sweet eyes that were regarding him almost pleadingly, then, with a very
vague consciousness of where, or what, or who he was, he said good-morning, and
The flask, unbroken still, hung
in the airiest place in his room, and he made it a principle not to look toward
it when he could possibly help it. What did the girl mean by giving him a
"potted acorn ? " as he called it. If he didn't know what she meant he ought to
have asked her—that's all ; and, for a man in a state of unconscionsness as to
the meaning of the girl he fancied he loved, he had a most singular habit of
thrilling and turning scarlet every- time he thought of her little band upon his
arm, and her beautiful, wistful eyes upon his face.
In the deep, wide parlors that
night Rose Dexter entertained her "thousand and one" friends, or something
less—a gay crowd, with the surge of music and plume and perfume among it, and
the flash of bright eyes and scintillant diamonds. Dainty little Rose had
admirers enough to have turned wiser heads than hers; but the worst of it was,
that she was inclined decidedly
to a preference among them.
There was a pair of eyes hovering
always some-where within view of her that slowly and reluctantly took in that
knowledge, and the graying brows above those eyes knit themselves and frowned
anxiously at the consciousness.
Two only of the danglers in the
beauty's train did these eyes see. Leeds Entresol and Frank Brandon. Leeds
Entresol, tall, dark, magnificent, with a voice deep and vibrant as smothered
cataract, and a jetty wealth of whisker and mustache. Rose both sought his
glance and shrank from it. The other, Frank Brandon, a slight, careless,
graceful young fellow, as light as the first was dark—gay, Iaughing, genial ;
but with neither laugh nor geniality for any one in the room save pretty, pretty
Rose. She blushed often at some things he said to her; but she laughed too, and
the blush might have been as much for Entresol as for Brandon, since often the
one could not well help hearing what the other said.
Entresol said little, Brandon
much ; and Bran-don was scarcely absent from her side an instant the whole
evening, when it was possible to be by her.
Entresol seemed swayed by
circumstances, near her or away, as it chanced ; but with his eye losing none of
her pretty witcheries, the smiling coquetries, which she dispensed about her.
Perhaps he could hear across the
room, or else had singular facility in translating the movement of Rose's
tripping lips, for though at the other side of the wide parlor, when, with a
furtive glance at him and a low trilling laugh, she said something to Brandon
about the Black Prince, he made his way at once from the parlors, and deputing
his farewell courtesies to a friend, left the house.
Among the throng, but not of
them, paced William Dexter, banker and millionaire. It was so rare—his presence
in such scenes—even in his own house, that few knew him even, and from those who
did he kept mostly aloof. A grave, silent man, watching from under nearly gray
brows—watching and commenting with inward discontent.
The two emotions, passions,
affections of this man's life had been vested in gold and kindred—the getting
the one and lavishing it upon the other.
His life need not have been
sterile. The one, warmth and wideness and softness, ought to have protected it
from the barrenness and hardness that the other gendered. Yet his life was
sterile, barren, desert, as a rock in an unfruitful country.
He had slaved, toiled like any
bondman, early and late, that he might surround those two, Raymond and Rose,
with this and this and this, no matter if it cost its weight in gold, so long as
he had it. And the two were as prodigal as might be expected of that of the
value of which they had no appreciation beyond the pleasure it purchased.
He had refused them nothing all
their lives that it was possible for him to grant them, and the possibility had
a wide range. And what was his re-ward? He was pacing the parlors still when the
last guest, Frank Brandon, lingering long, finally departed, with an expressive
pressure of little Rose's hand.
William Dexter knew this young
man for a scoundrel, notwithstanding his frank face and genial ways, and had
forbidden Rose to hold any intercourse with him long enough before this evening.
He had supposed himself obeyed;
but this evening's observation had shown him that, far from that being the case,
the two were on surprisingly familiar terms.
" Rose ?"
The girl turned from her light
good-night to young Brandon with a little nervous start. She had not been
conscious of her father's presence all the evening, and she colored some now
upon be-coming aware of it, and remembering at the seine time what he had said
to her about Frank Brandon.
Mr. Dexter's anger, under
constraint all the evening, burst forth now with proportionate violence.
Rose shrank palely before it, and
at the first lull in the storm escaped to her apartment.
This was not all the evening's
happening. In an earlier portion of it Mr. Dexter had overheard a conversation
between seine of the guests which had stung him with the truth it suddenly
forced him to accept, a truth that had long been knocking at the door of his
consciousness, but to which he had re-fused to listen until now.' It concerned
Raymond; and Raymond entering the room just then from an adjoining one, he
turned upon him suddenly with a quotation from it that struck him suddenly
white, between anger and amazement:
"`Raymond Dexter had in him
originally the material for a man, but a more conceited, brainless coxcomb than
he is I don't know in the whole range of my acquaintance."'
Raymond caught his breath fairly.
The words expressed so nearly a thought that had been vaguely trying to thread
the chambers of his brain ever since Victoria Field's refusal to become his
wife. The spark that lurked under his effeminacy leaped suddenly now into flame,
and died as quickly.
"Whose fault is it, father?" he
said, low, but bitterly, and left the room abruptly.
William Dexter, pacing those
magnificent parlors amidst the unquenched blaze of light that flamed all through
them, pondered this question, but found no solution of it.
Whose fault was it? Not his. What
could man do more than he had done for his children—for Raymond?
Raymond, pacing his own apartment
a while, and finally with an impatient shrug throwing himself dressed as he was
upon his bed, found no solution for it either.
Waking in the morning, Victoria
Field's crystal toy dangled before him, and flashed taunting gleams in his eyes
as the sun struck it. With an impatient movement he swept the curtain between
him and it. What did the girl mean by telling him she wished he would break the
flask? What would become of her young oak if he did that ?
A plague upon the cold, strange
girl ! There were plenty of women—women worth haying, too,
who would have jumped at the
offer she had re- ' fused. There was Laura Mason, now the handsomest woman in
New York, and the cleverest. She hadn't any fault to find in him, and he
wouldn't have been afraid to wager any sum any body pleased that if he had asked
her to be his wife she would have said " yes," and "thank you" too. He had half
a mind to set up a flirtation with her, just to show Victoria Field how little
he was affected by her ambiguities.
A WEEK only had passed, but in
the fast life which he lived Raymond Dexter had improved it to the extent of
becoming or imagining himself desperately in love with Laura Mason.
One morning, in a careless
off-hand manner, very different from that on a similar occasion about ten days
before, he asked her the same question he had Victoria Field, and got in
substance his "yes, thank you."
Coming home, hiding himself in
his own room, the first thing he saw was Miss Field's crystal flask, which he
forthwith dashed front its bracket ignominiously, saying grimly as he surveyed
the fragments, " You told me to break it." Then seeming to feel the light, white
touch upon his arm, the beautiful eyes upon his face, sudden remorse seized him,
and carefully gathering up the mutilated re-mains of the poor "potted acorn," he
took them into the conservatory, and dislodging a superb African lily from its
vase, deposited his young oak therein.
That night William Dexter coming
home late, and tottering under some burden as though the weight of twice his
years had suddenly settled upon him, clung to the door-post in the hall and
listened to the murmur of voices that came from the drawing-room beyond.
Rose and Raymond were both there.
No, that was not Raymond's voice, and suddenly throwing wide the door he entered
and stood beside Rose. Rose with her little hand in Frank Brandon's, and her
white eyelids drooping uder his ardent gaze. She started away from him with a
low cry as she saw her father looking so strangely ; but Frank Brandon, after an
instant's disconcertment, said, with a straightforwardness worthy a good cause,
"I have been asking Rose to be my wife, Sir ; she will consent if you will."
"Will she ?" said the old man,
strangely. " Well, go away now, young man, and if you come hack to me to-morrow
with the same plea on your lips you may have her and welcome." The morrow came,
and before it had passed the name of William Dexter, bankrupt, was being bandied
from lip to lip.
It was an utter crash; every
thing was gone, even to Frank Brandon, who did not so much as send an apology
for his non-appearance at the appointed time.
Rose, reeling under it all, but,
strangely enough, retaining some portion of her delicate senses, crept after her
wretched father into the library just in time to thrust aside, with her frail
but frantic hand, the deadly muzzle he was holding to his crazed temples.
And then she staid by him till
Raymond came, a very faded, sick little rose, but curiously with courage enough
in her for that, and too much pride to trust a servant with her fear.
Raymond sent her away to her room
when he came, but he held her in his arms a moment first. The eyes of the
brother and sister met, with a strange new sympathy, in that hour of trial, and
he said, as he let her go, " Never mind, sis." He was thinking of Frank Brandon
Watching with the poor old man,
to whom an opiate had brought sleep at last, he stole once into the
conservatory, twisting in his fingers a note that had come to him at nightfall
from Laura Mason.
The young lady had repented her
grateful affirmative of the day before, and took the first opportunity of
informing him to that effect.
Raymond's lips curled ; neither
this blow nor the other seemed to have crushed him.
Ile bent a moment over the poor
little "potted acorn:" it really looked like living after all, and Raymond
turned away from it with a curious light in his eye.
In the midst of all that chaos of
bewilderment and confusion as to what they should do, the old man sat all day
with his head fallen upon his bosom, and Rose staid with him, scared and sick,
but sensible, and Raymond rushed to and fro like a rudderless ship, eager,
brave, but uncertain.
In the midst of all came a letter
from a good old country gentleman, brother to William Dexter, offering the best
at his command—a home to Rose and her father, and the lease of a small farm to
Raymond winced, but he had
resolved deliberately to accept the first honorable employment that offered, and
really nothing else was to be had.
People knew too well how Raymond
Dexter had been reared. Nobody had a good enough opinion of him to have him in
their counting-house or sales-room. And so, dandy as he was, or had been, he
wrote grateful, if reluctant, acceptance of his uncle's offer.
The three left town quietly,
making no adieux; only, Raymond sent by a trusty hand to Victoria Field a small
package, which, upon opening, proved to be merely some fragments of broken
crystal. But Miss Field smiled tremulously when she saw them, and some tears
from her beautiful eyes plashed among the broken bits.
UNCLE TOM DEXTER, as every one in
that region called Raymond's uncle, stared and shook his head discouragingly at
sight of Ids tenant.
Raymond colored and laughed, but
succeeded in persuading his uncle " to give him a try."
It was what Uncle Tom called
City exquisites are not
transformed into hardworking farmers at a moment's notice. But Ray-mend had made
the one resolve so necessary to success in any undertaking, viz., whatever be
did, that 1 he would do with all his might. Amidst all the rough and tumble of
this new life his hitherto
dwarfed energies, physical and
mental, seemed to shake off fetters.
He stood forth a man,
intellectually and physic-ally, a son, a brother, filling the last days of his
old father with peace, a guard to his sister, that no Frank Brandon ever again
In the fullness of time be
brought home to the little farm—now his own, and something to be proud of, for
the very reason that he had made it his own —Victoria.
In the soft purple twilight he
led her up the walk his wife, stopping a moment by a young sturdy oak of some
three years' growth, and saying, "God helping me, dear, I mean to grow with it."
And so he has.
Rose is married to a man worth a
thousand like Frank Brandon. I am not at all sure that the " crash" did not
benefit her as much as Raymond.
Do you know this peculiar
feeling? I speak to men in middle age.
To be bearing up as manfully as
you can : putting a good face on things trying to persuade your-self that you
have done very fairly in life after all : and all of a sudden to feel that
merciful self-deception fail you, and just to break down ; to own how bitterly
beaten and disappointed you are, and what a sad and wretched failure you have
made of life ?
There is no one in the world we
all try so hard to cheat and delude as ourself. How we hoodwink that individual,
and try to make him look at things through rose-colored spectacles! Like the
poor little girl in Mr. Dickens's touching story, we suede believe very/ much.
But sometimes we arc not aide to make believe. The illusion goes. The hare,
unvarnished truth forces itself upon us : and we see what miserable little
wretches we are : how poor and petty are our ends in life ; and what a dull
weary round it all is. You remember the poor old half-pay officer, of whom
Charles Lamb tells us? He was not to be disillusioned. Ile asked you to hand him
the silver sugar-longs in so confident a tone that though your eyes testified
that it was but a tea-spoon, and that of Britannia metal, a certain spell was
cast over your mind. But rely on it, though that half-starved veteran kept up in
this way before people, he would often break down when he was alone. It would
suddenly rush upon him what a wretched old humbug he was.
Is it sometimes so with all of
its? We are none of us half satisfied with ourselves. We know we are poor
creatures, though we try to persuade our-selves that we are tolerably good. At
least, if we have any sense, this is so. Yet I greatly envied a man whom I
passed in the street yesterday ; a stranger, a middle-aged person. His nose was
elevated in the air: he had a supercilious demeanor, expressive of superiority
to his fellow-creatures, and contempt for them. Perhaps be was a prince, and so
entitled to look down on ordinary folk. Perhaps he was a bagman. The few princes
I have ever seen had nothing of his uplifted aspect. But what a fine thing it
would be, to be able always to delude yourself with the belief that you are a
great and important person; to be always quite satisfied with yourself, and your
position ! 'There are people who, while repeating certain words in the litany,
feel as it was a mere form signifying nothing, to call themselves miserable
sinners. There are sonic who say these words sorrowfully from their very heart,
feeling that they express God's truth. They know what weak, silly, sinful beings
they are; they know what a poor thing they have made of life, with all their
hard work, and all their planning and scheming. In fact, they feel beaten,
disappointed, down. The high hopes with which they started are blighted—were
blighted long ago. They think, with a bitter laugh, of their early dreams of
eminence, of success, of happiness. And sometimes, after holding up for a while
as well as they could, they feel they can do it no longer. Their heart fails
them. They sit down and give up altogether. Great men and good men have done it.
It is a comfort to many a poor fellow to think of Elijah, beaten and sick at
heart, sitting down under a scrubby bush at evening far in the bare desert, and
feeling there was no more loft, and that he could bear no more. Thank. God that
the verse is in the Bible.
"But he himself went a day's
journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he
requested for himself that he might die ; and said, It is enough ; now, O Lord,
take away my life ; for I ant not better than my fathers."
I thought of Elijah iii the
wilderness the other night. I saw the great prophet again. For human nature is
the same in a great prophet as in a poor little hungry boy.
At nine o'clock on Saturday
evening I heard pitiful, subdued subs and crying outside. I know the kind of
tiling that means some one fairly beaten. Not angry, not bitter : smashed. I
opened the front door, and found a little boy, ten years old, sitting on the
steps, crying. I asked him what was the matter. I see the thin, white, hungry,
dirty little face. He would have slunk away if he could; he plainly thought his
case beyond all mending. But I brought him in, and set his on a chair in the
lobby; and he told his story. He had a large bundle of sticks in a ragged
sack—firewood. At three o'clock that afternoon he had come out to sell them. His
mother was a poor washer-woman, in the most wretched part of the town; his
father was killed a fortnight ago by falling from a scaffold. He had walked a
long way through the streets, about three miles. He had tried all the afternoon
to sell his sticks, but had sold only a half penny-worth. He was lame, poor
little man, front a sore log, but managed to carry his heavy load. But at last,
going down some poor area stair iii the dark, he fell down a whole flight of
stops, and hurt his log so that he could not walk, and also got a great cut on
the forehead. Ile had got just the half-penny for his poor mother: he had been
going about with his burden for six hours, with nothing to eat. But he turned
his lace homeward, carrying his sticks ; and straggled on about a quarter of a
mile : and then he broke down. He could go no further. In the dark