Ushering In The Lady Of The Chateau With All The Forms And Graces; Introducing Croquet And One Of Its Usual Results; And Recording The Direful Mistake Of An Unsuspecting Union Offices.
CHipmunk Court House, May 21, 1868.
How exquisite a creation is woman, as she evokes the soothing melody of home from a seven-octave piano, and warbles the anguish of Italy in a manner to reach the ears of Garibaldi! How like a fairy of patient tenderness and love is she to the little spanklings of the tranquil house, as she fondly confides them to the care of her sweeping mother, while she goes out to do a little shopping; or thoughtfully persuades them from the apartment when one calls whose misery as to what to do with his hat and legs might overtask their delicate young nerves! How softly creak her ministering steps in the sick-room, as she goes every three minutes to see what time it is getting to be, and seldom upsets more than two chairs and the tray of breakfast things on each chronological occasion! How like a soothing vision from some better world is she to her careworn husband, when she acutely sympathizes in all his troubles by having the sick-headache as soon as he commences telling them to her, and ardently shares in all his joys at the exact moment when they take the shape of an invitation to the opera! And then, when adversity comes down upon him to whom she has sworn to send all her bills, and he finds it difficult to buy that daily cheap cigar which he feels compelled as a gentleman to purchase at the gratuitous lunch-saloon where he inexpensively dines, how touching is it to see her so willingly practising all the rigors of economy, - to see her giving only four dollars for a " braid," when she might get one for four and a quarter, and contenting herself with three pounds of "mixed" candies, when French assorted fruit-drops are so much higher!
The arrival of Matilda Munchausen at the chateau of her brother is the event leading me into this train of thoughts; and when I remember how this fair girl freely offered a pair of ear-rings to be melted into cannon for the South, and went with her own feet to carry a pair of embroidered lamp-mats to a sick Confederacy in the hospital. I feel that my eyes, in dying, could not rest upon anything more beautiful and appropriate than a woman's hand presenting me with a crochet smoking-cap.
At the commencement of the recent misunderstanding between the sections, Matilda fled from the chateau to Wilmington, where news of the latest fashions Was likely to be soonest heard; and at the period when the prospects of the South seemed darkest, wrote to her! brothers that the Elliptic Hoop-skirt was the best. And now, that Reconstruction has set in, and edging is no deare in Wilmington than it is anywhere else, she has returded hastily to the halls of her fathers to get her back-hair reconstructed.
Captain Villiam Brown and I had just returned from reproving two Mackerels, who had been scalded with hot tea by order of the Provisional Governor for looking at the surrounding country like conquerors, as it were, - we had just returned from this mission of duty, when Matilda Munchausen arrived and asked if anybody had called during the last six years.
"Matilda," said Captain Munchausen, impressively, as he retied the bit of twine which held his vest together in front, "the two blue Vandals before you, trimmed with brass buttons, are - ha! ha! - our Conquerors; and you must not spit on them for the present. Miss Munchausen, Vandals; Vandals, Miss Munchausen".
"Ah!" says Villiam, bowing as one who should look for a pin upon the floor, and recovering himself just in time to save a small black bottle from sliding out of his pocket, "we are Vandals only in our extreme willingness to take a Roam with you".
"And," said I, bowing also, "you are yourself fair enough to make each of us a Cinna".
"Sirs," said Matilda, haughtily, "while you are guests at my brother's chateau, and have your minions on the grass-plat, which is a burning shame, I shall not wear my hair in papers. But you must not bring any of your conquering airs here, and I won't have you looking at my back-hair as if it was anything to be ashamed of because it isn't fixed ex-act-ly like the latest style in New York. Oh!" said Matilda, with energy, "I should like to scratch your eyes out!"
" Matilda! Matilda!" said Captain Munchausen, gloomily.
"Never mind, Sarah," says Villiam, affably, "my fren' and I understand the fair seck. Ah!" says Villiam, in soft ecstasy, "how like a bounding fawn would that lovely face appear in a new style of spring bonnet which mine eyes beheld of late in Washington ! It was," says Villiam, dreamily, "a teaspoonful of lace, seasoned with fine gold-dust, and garnished with raw tummattusses and green.
It was a shame that the Provisional Governor interrupted him just then; for her beautiful head was thrown eagerly forward, her eyes were all alight with the radiance of excitement, and her just-parted lips, like a cleft-rose, seemed to exhale the fragrance of sweet thoughts. *
"The South, visionary satrap," -said the Provisional Governor, taking off his spectacles to cool them in consequence of his eyes having flashed with indignation, - "the South, visionary satrap, refuses to buy the luxuries of the North, having learned that six months' credit is to be refused with contumely. Now, let us to crockay".
We all followed his lead out doors to the croquet ground, our host having enthusiastically adopted the game, upon information that it was fashionable in Europe, from a cousin who sold lozenges on the Continent. Gaining the spot, and looking down upon the half-hoops sticking into the ground, I was about to speak, when Villiam suddenly gave a start, and I saw Matilda flitting hastily from his side.
"Ah!" says Villiam.
"How now, my Napoleon?" asked I.
"My fren'," says Villiam, in a whisper, "that sweet being pinched me".