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Mamma exclaimed in horror: “An alpaca dress for a St. Cecilia Ball! Impossible! I cannot consent to your going so unsuitably dressed.”

Then I burst out most improperly: “It is too late now to say that. I have spent my hard-earned money for the frock, and it is finished. I got it because it would last better than a muslin, and when it gets dirty I can have it dyed for a day frock. You used to take great interest in Della’s clothes and choose them all, because she was pretty, but as I am ugly you have never cared what I put on.”

Poor mamma was terribly shocked, and said so; then she said: “I

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certainly will see that you have a proper outfit for this occasion.{328}”

True to her word, she went out, bought and had made by Mrs. Cummings, the best dressmaker in town, a real ball dress. White tulle over white silk, and trimmed with wreaths of little fine white flowers. When I went to try it on I could scarcely believe my eyes, and found it hard to sleep that night for thinking of it. Mrs. Cummings promised to have it sent by seven o’clock Thursday, the night of the ball. I waited and looked anxiously; eight came, no dress, and finally at nine I sent the others off to the ball and went to bed. I felt I had been well punished for my wicked outburst of temper; but perhaps few can understand how I suffered, for few, I think, have the intense love of pleasure which I had in my youth. I could, and did, throw myself, heart and

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soul into my work, whatever it was, but I threw myself with equal vehemence into my play when the work was over. In two weeks’ time came the next St. Cecilia, and I went and wore my beautiful ball dress, but I had a very chastened feeling all the evening. The frock was a dream, quite short, with little pleatings of tulle, from the waist to the bottom; the waist fitted perfectly, and mamma had fulfilled her promise of an outfit, for she had bought white kid slippers (one and a half was then my number) and a pair of white kid gloves, some{329}thing I had never even dreamed of; so for once I was properly attired according to the ideas of the great world, and mamma was very pleased when I went to show myself to her before going. We still walked to all entertainments in our boots, our slippers, carefully wrapped up, being intrusted

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to our escort, who received them with a kind of reverence mingled with joy, at having committed to his care a part of one’s vital belongings. This was only for real balls, however; at the little informal dances which we had very often, we danced in our walking shoes, always waxing the soles thoroughly before going into the dancing-room. This important service was also rendered by one’s escort, and was regarded almost in the light of an accolade. In the rather laborious life that I led, never any fire in my bedroom, never any hot water, I suffered terribly from chilblains, and my hands and feet were often greatly swollen, so that I could not get on my shoes; then, instead of staying away, I asked mamma if she would lend me her best shoes. This was mamma’s only extravagance; she was a very tall woman with beautiful hands and feet, long and narrow, and common shoes did not fit her at all, so she had her boots made to order, at what to us seemed an enormous price; she wore fives, much too long for her, as she liked{330} them that way, but fitting perfectly in every other way. I could see that it was a supreme sacrifice on her part to lend me those, her most precious possession, but she consented, and I went off to a dance at the Dessaussure’s, arrayed in my black silk and mamma’s shoes, and enjoyed my comfortable feet immensely; I had stuffed the toes with cotton, as it was only in the length they were too big, and when people stepped on my foot, as was often the case that first evening that I wore them, as I had not got accustomed to managing feet so much longer than usual, they would apologize humbly and hope they had not hurt me too badly, I always answered: “You have not hurt me at all; that was only my shoe you stepped on, not my foot”—to their great amusement. One day a man said: “I was asked a conundrum that is going the rounds last night: what young lady has the biggest shoe and the smallest foot in town?” All this is very trivial and very silly, but as I make the effort to recall the past, all these foolish details come, and I just put them down.
CHAPTER XXXI 1868
THIS was a very happy year to me and to mamma. My little sister made her début, and she was so pretty and so charming that she was greatly admired and had a great many adorers. This added immensely to my pleasure in going out, and I think it was a great relief to mamma to have another very pretty daughter to be proud of. Two or three of the older girls were allowed to go to parties, too, and they were a charming lot, abounding in youth and joy. I cannot remember all, but some I was especially fond of come to me: Rosa Evans, a tiny little thing, as bright as a steel trap, with very fair skin and brown hair almost touching the floor, and so thick that it was hard for her to dispose of it on her small head; she had many serious admirers; she came from Society Hill, where every one had been so good to us during the war; Sophie Bonham, a charmingly pretty brunette, as quiet as a mouse, but none the less having many admirers, Charley and herself being great friends, he having by a miracle escaped without a broken{332} heart from the all-conquering Serena; then came Maggie Jordan, who though not nearly so handsome, looked very like her sister Victoria, who had been one of the beauties of madame’s school when I was a little girl, and who was blown up on a steamer on the Mississippi when on her wedding-trip. I can remember the faces and individualities of others, but their names are too vague to attempt to record them. All this time I was too happy and too busy sometimes to be able to sleep! It was the greatest joy to me to have Jinty going out with me, and to see her so much admired; she had many charming steadies, and then we had some friends in common; I remember at this moment one man, older than the majority of our friends, Bayard Clinch, such a delightful man; he was her admirer but my friend. Altogether we had a very gay time. My own special friend was working so hard on the rice-plantation in the country that he did not very often get to town, and then, though I always knew when I entered a ballroom if he was there, without seeing him, by a queer little feeling, I always treated him with great coolness and never gave him more than one dance in an evening, for there were two kind of people I could not bear to dance with—the peo{333}ple whom I disliked and those I liked too much, and he was the only one in the second class. Besides, he had learned to dance in Germany, and had practised it at Heidelberg, and shot about the floor in an extraordinary manner, which endangered the equilibrium of the quiet couples, and that made me furious.

Charley was a beautiful dancer, and very popular, and I am afraid something of a flirt, with his great, sleepy, hazel eyes, but he was most sedate as an escort, as solemn as a judge, and the girls minded his injunctions absolutely in all social matters, which was a great mercy, for the etiquette in their home towns was by no means as strict as that dictated by St. Cecilia standards.

Before the school term was over this spring I received an invitation from Mrs. David Williams, to spend two months with Serena and Mary at their farm near Staunton, Virginia, which I accepted with delight, and began the preparation at once for my summer outfit, which would have to be a little more elaborate than what I prepared for a summer at Plantersville. When the time came for leaving, my uncle Chancellor Lesesne took me to the station and put me on the train. He gave me many directions as to my conduct on{334} the journey, as it was looked upon as a very hazardous departure from custom for me to make the journey alone; among other charges that he gave he said: “My dear niece, let nothing induce you to let a young man speak to you! It would be most improper to enter into conversation with any man, but the natural questions which you might have to ask of an official of the road, whom you will recognize by his uniform.” Then he bade me an affectionate and solemn farewell, which started me with a lump in my throat. The end of the eight months of teaching, not to speak of my other activities, always found me in a shattered condition. Toward the end of the last month the dropping of a slate startled me into disgraceful tears, which were almost impossible to stop. I used to be quite touched at the great care the girls took not to drop a book or even a pencil, and those who had annoyed me the most by their recklessness in this respect were the most careful now; this was wonderful, for I was awfully cross and irritable. After settling myself in my place, and getting out my book and fan and everything else I could possibly need, Uncle Henry’s words came to my mind with renewed force. I had insisted that I was not at all afraid, and would rather travel alone than waste two weeks of my{335} good holiday and invitation, waiting until a party was going on to Virginia, who said they would take charge of me. But Uncle Henry had succeeded in making me feel that I was courting danger, disaster, and insult, and my strained nerves were delighted to seize and elaborate that theme, so that when we got to the place where I had to change cars for Staunton (I am not sure, but I think it was Alexandria), I got out and stood by my trunk (which had to be rechecked here) in perfect despair; a very nice-looking, gentlemanly young man came up and said: “Can I do anything for you?” With the last remnants of composure, I said, “No, thank you,” and watched him with dismay disappear into the car. At last the conductor came and stood a second at the door of the car and called: “All ’board!” I made a dart to the car, saying to myself, “Let the trunk go; I don’t care,” and got up the steps and into the car, to find not a seat, so I stood in the middle of the crowded car, with my heavy blue veil down to conceal the marks of agitation on my face, and my valise in my hand. Fortunately, the conductor rushed through, and I managed to say: “My trunk is out there.” In his great haste he looked where I pointed, rushed to the baggage-car and sent two men, who ran, seized the trunk,{336} and pitched it aboard just as the train started. The conductor came back and asked me why under the sun I had not spoken to him before, “that it was a very near thing, and that if the trunk had been left there, in all probability it would never have been seen again, as things were pretty unsettled in these parts.” I was in no condition to enter into conversation; my throat ached so that when I tried to tell the man that I had not spoken to him because I had not seen him, he had trouble in understanding me. The rest of my journey was short, fortunately, and my hearty reception restored my equanimity, but it was some time before I had recovered my voice and spirits enough to be able to narrate all my experiences, to the great amusement of the party. I tell all this because it is hard to believe that such a state of things could have ever been possible, when we see the ease and aplomb with which very young girls move about the world, from end to end literally. But that was fifty-three years ago, and surely there is no one who would not say that we have made a wonderful advance in sense.

The home life of this family always remains in my mind as a beautiful picture, each member doing his or her own part as perfectly as it could be done. Mr. Williams had shown his foresight and{337} common sense in an uncommon way, for during the war, when it was by no means necessary, as they were wealthy, he had insisted that his daughters (who were attending a school kept by the De Choiseul family and were having a first-class education) should be taught to cook and to wash, for he said that to him it seemed likely that they would have much more use for these domestic arts than for the more ornamental branches; the combination had been altogether charming. Finding his property all gone, making it impossible to spend his winters in Florida and the summers in the mountains at their beautiful place at Flat Rock, he determined to sell both these delightful homes, not being willing for his family to live altogether in the enervating climate of Florida, and there was no chance of making a living at Flat Rock. So he sold them and bought a farm in Virginia, where they could spend winter and summer in a fine climate, and where he could cultivate the land and make a living. It had been almost impossible to bring on their handsome furniture, and it would have been most unsuitable to this farmhouse, so he had a workshop in which he manufactured the most delightful rustic chairs and couches and dressing-tables, which with pretty chintz cushions and curtains made the interior{338} fascinating and unique. I would like to run on and give a full description of my perfect visit; but I must hasten to a close; only one little thing I must tell. Soon after I arrived we were invited to a dance. As I was sitting up in my room, reading, as I always did in the morning while the girls went to do their respective duties in the household—for they would not let me help in the smallest way, saying I was there for rest and must have it, and after a short struggle I gave in completely—Serena came in and asked what I was going to wear to the dance that night; I answered, my barège frock. “Oh, no, wear your white muslin, please.” I answered truly that it was not fresh enough, as I had worn it constantly before leaving home and had not had time to have it done up. Nothing would content her until I took it out for her to look at; then, to my surprise, she said: “Why, that is quite fresh enough; I will take it down for Mollie to smooth, and it will do nicely.” Of course I yielded, as I always did to Serena in the end, but I wondered over it, for the dress was really dirty. In the afternoon, when I came up to get ready, there was my frock spread out on the bed, beautifully done up! I flew down to the kitchen to thank Mollie, but she said: “You needn’t to thank me, ma’am; shure an’ ’twas Miss{339} Serena as don it; she washed it, an’ she starched it, and she i’oned it, an’ her just drippin’ with the sweat.” I was overcome; to think of this beauty and belle, adored and spoiled by so many, doing this in order that her work-weary, plain little friend should look her best, for the barège was a pretty, nice new frock, but she did not think as becoming. I think such friendship is rare. I was to go to Baltimore for a short visit when I left the farm, and it was decided that I needed another frock; after discussing the important matter thoroughly Mrs. Williams said she thought a black silk was what I should have; I quailed at the expense of such a thing, but she said: “Bessie, you send and buy the silk and I will make it up.” So I sent and got ten yards of beautiful black silk, and my wonderful hostess cut, fitted, and made a most stylish walking-suit, the very joy of my heart. Of course, I helped with the sewing, but I could never have undertaken so handsome a costume alone. I left my dear friends with tears; it was leaving peace and joy and love behind.

CHAPTER XXXII CHICORA WOOD
March, 1869.

I AM holding on to every moment of my full happy life, for this is to be our last year in Charleston. Mamma has applied for her dower, and when it is assigned her, we will move into the country, as Charlie is to graduate this spring at the college, and Jinty’s education is complete, and Mamma prefers the country where Charlie can make a living by planting rice. Every one is happy over it but me; I cannot bear the thought of giving up my full life; but I try not to think about it until it comes, but to enjoy the present without alloy. Anyway we would have to give up this beautiful house for the creditors of the estate want to sell it.

I have so many delightful friends; one specially who has actually taught me to love poetry, by his persistence in reading it to me. I do believe I have always liked it in my heart, for among my most cherished books from the time I was fourteen are Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales given me by my first hero Cousin Johnston Pettigrew, and a{341} little fat leather-bound copy of Homer’s Iliad, I never moved without these two. Then I liked Evangeline, and Hiawatha, but I never could get up any enthusiasm for The Lady of the Lake, so I had got into the habit of saying with a certain pride that I did not like poetry.

April. Every Friday evening Mr. Sass comes and we read Italian together, which is delightful. I have studied a little alone, and when I was about thirteen, to every one’s great amusement, I used to take an hour’s lesson in the 长沙桑拿爽记 afternoon, once a week, from M. Pose. I have always loved languages and Italian is especially beautiful, and in singing it is such a help to know it. Now we are reading Goldoni’s plays, and the Italian is so simple, it is very easy to read, very different from the Jerusalem, which we read first. My mind is so eager for knowledge, it is positively uncanny, it springs forward so to meet things, I fear me it is more than usually true of me that “Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers.”

I need ballast so much, if I had only had a man’s education. A good course of mathematics under a severe master would help me greatly, and I need help.

The only form of amusement that the young{342} men could afford was boating, and soon after we began the school, Charlie sent to the plantation and got Brother to send down to him one of the rowboats. Rainbow, the pride of the plantation, had been lent 长沙夜网论坛注册 to the Confederate Government, for use on the fortifications and we never got her back, but Brother sent the next best and it was a fine rowboat. Charlie named it the Countess, and he and his friends had great pleasure in her; Tom Frost, Arthur Mazyck, William Jervey, James Lesesne and himself were the crew, and they invited their girl friends to the most delightful moonlight rows. They went on long fishing trips on Saturdays and all their holidays, coming back happy but their faces pealing from sunburn. The exercise kept them in good health and spirits.

May, 1869. Things are moving on rapidly. When Mamma applied for her dower, she said she would take a sixth of the real estate in fee simple, instead of a third for life only; she has received information that the creditors appointed a board of Appraisers, to value the property and decide, and after careful valuation they have 长沙桑拿论坛 decided that the plantation, Chicora Wood, where she has always lived will constitute a sixth of the land in value, and have awarded her that. It is too delightful!{343} and she is so happy, and we are all so happy, for the idea of giving up Chicora was dreadful, and we feared they would think it too valuable for a sixth. It has all to be repaired as the house is all torn to pieces, but Mamma has been so wonderful that she has invested more than a thousand dollars every year of the school, and she has begged Brother to engage carpenters and begin the restoration of the house and out-buildings at once, so that it will be ready for us next winter. I only wish my heart was not so heavy about going.

The packing up of all our belongings was a tremendous business, but in this as in everything else Charley was most efficient, and he did it with a good heart, as it was the greatest happiness to him that we were moving back to Chicora, and that he was going to plant the place. Jinty was also perfectly happy, the thought of being able to live on horseback once more filled her with joy. I, only, was downhearted; to me human nature had become more interesting than plain nature, and people more fascinating than plants. So I determined to apply for a place as music-teacher in the town of union, S. C., which had been held by a very charming friend of mine who played beautifully, Caro Ravenel. The family did not ap{344}prove of my doing this as mamma thought I needed rest; anyway, we were to go to the pineland for the summer and I would not have to leave for union until the autumn.

I remember well the last Sunday we were to be in Charleston; during the service I was so moved that I had to put down my heavy veil to conceal my tears!

Just at this time a most wonderful thing happened: mamma got a letter from our cousin, John Earl Allston, of Brooklyn, N. Y., saying:

“My dear Cousin:

“I have placed to your credit in the Bank of Charleston the sum of $5,000, which I hope will be useful to you.

“You need feel no sense of obligation in receiving it, for it is not one-half of what my Cousin Robert, your husband, did for me and mine in the past. When my mother’s house was to be sold over her head, he bought it in and gave it to her, and many other things he did for us, and it is a great pleasure to me to be able to do this for his widow and family.”