Taking upon ourselves mantles of invisibility we boldly enter the hospitable door of this celebrated house, and are quite surprised to find host, hostess, daughters, and a 3* young-man visitor named young Mr. Blinders, very heartily welcoming that delicious specimen of a girl who came up in the stage with us.
"My dear Maggie Pye," say both of the old folks at once, " we're so glad to see you. How did you leave pa and ma ? Mr. Blinders, this is our niece from New York, Miss Pye".
Young Mr. Blinders ducks his head with great emotion, turns very red in the face, and puts both of his hands still deeper into his pockets.
A smile of rather cruel amusement is beginning to curl brightly from the corners of Miss Pye's charming mouth, when her cousins, Cassandra and Minerva, commence to tear off her "things," like affectionate young wild-cats, and she permits Mr. Blinders to go uncrushed for the nonce.
Questions, answers, and hugs run riot for ten minutes; after which there is a hasty washing of hands and smoothing of locks, and then dinner is officially announced by a young woman who has seen better days,-or, at least, days when there would not be so many plates to wash.
The table is substantially and generously furnished, though, perhaps, the presence of doughnuts as an entree and apple-pie as a vegetable, might not be considered orthodox in Fifth Avenue. It is a table to make one feel at a glance that the natural act of eating is a plain, honest, hearty act, not to be entered upon with any mawkish pretences of bird-like pecking. Down they all sit, and the 'squire helps to corned pork and doughnuts all around; after which delicate operation he starts up the talk.
" Well, Maggie, did you have a nice ride up? I wonder whether George drove the roans, or the grays, today?"
" The roans - I seen 'em".
This from young Mr. Blinders, who is immediately conscious of having committed an indiscretion, and knocks over a tumbler of water with his elbow by way of helping matters.
" Is George the driver's name ? " says Maggie. " Why! don't you think, uncle, he thought I was coming to Twinkleton to buy a horse, and confidentially offered to sell me a pacing mare ! "
"O Cassandry!" says Minerva, appealing to her sister, "only think of Mag's buying a horse out of her own pocket!"
He! he ! from Minerva, to accompany the ha! ha! of 'Squire Maple, to accompany the hor ! hor! hor ! of young Mr. Blinders.
"Well, I tell you what it is, girls,", says Maggie, shaking her curls; "pa's given me a hundred dollars to spend, and I'm more than half a mind to buy a dear angel of a saddle-horse with it. I do love horseback riding 80 much, and our coupe horses aint fit".
"I say, Miss Pye - "
This from young Mr. Blinders, whose speech is suddenly checked by a nudge from Miss Minerva, and a magical removal of his pocket-handkerchief from the table to his pocket.
"Ah, Maggie, my girl," says the 'squire, "I consider myself responsible for you now, and shan't let you run through your fortune in that way".
Miss Pye is about to respond with some playful defiance, when she is surprised at receiving a most sinister and complicated wink from the right eye of young Mr. Blinders.
The impudent booby! she thinks. How dare he! But she is too good-natured to take serious offence, and begins to plan some choice fun at his expense.
Dinner is over, and young Mr. Blinders lingers around the room in speechless clumsiness until the chatter becomes deafening, when he springs convulsively from his chair, makes a gape at Miss Pye, as though about to utter something remarkable, and then goes home.
Thereupon his peculiarities are all picked to pieces, as are those of all gentlemen who have just left the company of ladies; and Miss Maggie Pye rollickingly avows that she has made a conquest of him already, and intends to do him brown. The Misses Cassandra and Minerva make a show of defending him; but the general conclusion is, that he was born expressly to be made an example of for the warning of all presumptuous young men. It is nearly eleven o'clock, p. m., when the question is finally settled, and then all the little dears retire to a double-bedded dormitory upstairs, and in a vivacious discussion of the Fashions talk themselves delightfully to sleep.
Next day young Mr. Blinders comes to dinner again, and lingers through the afternoon, and manages to ask Miss Pye, in a blood-curdling whisper, if she is "going to be scared out of it by them Mapleses ? "
In utter bewilderment Maggie is about to come out with a Good gracious me! when young Mr. Blinders abruptly bolts out of the house, and leaves subsequent laughter to serve as a flattering comment on his fragmentary style of wooing. Oh, such a goose !
On the following morning, however, he comes not long after breakfast, when the Misses Cassandra and Minerva - whose excellent parents will pronounce their names as though spelled with a final y - artfully manage to leave Miss Pye alone in the dining-room with him. Five minutes, - ten minutes, - fifteen minutes, - and the front door is heard to close after somebody, and Miss Pye comes tearing upstairs to the girls' room with her curls fairly on end.
"O Cassy and Minny!" says she, "it's too funny! What do you think? He's asked me to elope with him, and I've agreed! "
"Yes! Says he to me, 'I say, Miss Pye, you aint a going to be watched and governed by these Mapleses - be ye?' Of course I told him ' No !' And then says he,- oh, dear, it's too funny, though!-says he, ' Then all you've got to do is to meet me out at the road-gate tonight after the Mapleses is abed, and then we'll take the liberty of doing as we please, with our own horse and our own money.' Now, girls, we must keep up the fun, you know; and I want both of you to hide behind those two poplars down by the gate to-night and hear me rig your country beau".
The Misses Cassandra and Minerva are at first disposed to decline any part in such a conspiracy; but remember in time that they have been called "these Mapleses" as well as their parents, and determine to witness the downfall.
Night comes; seven o'clock; eight o'clock, ma goes to bed; nine o'clock, pa says he must go to bed; ten o'clock, and pa does go to bed. Half-past ten o'clock, and the Misses Cassandra and Minerva are behind the poplars, and Miss Pye is at the appointed gate. In five minutes there after young Mr. Blinders suddenly emerges from the dense shade of two trees across the road, and cautiously approaches the wicket.
" I say, Miss Pye ! " in a whisper.
"Well, sir," responds Maggie, timidly, quite alarmed for a moment as the magnitude of her joke flashes upon her.
"Shall we go to him, or shall I bring him here?" whispers young Mr. Blinders, with great self-possession.
Ho means the clergyman, thinks Miss Pye. I ought to be ashamed of myself to fool the poor fellow so, I doclare; but I'll put him out of his misery at once, and as delicately as I can.
"No, Mr. Blinders," she says, "I cannot go with you. In an affair of this kind my parents should be consulted- "
"I say, Miss Pye," interrupts young Mr. Blinders, "it's only them Mapleses that could come between us in this, and it aint none of their business, anyhow. All I ask is the hundred dollars that old Maples wanted to be responsible for, you know?"
" Sir!" says Miss Pye, horror-stricken at such mercenary frankness.
" Just let me show him to you, you know. I've got him nigh under that tree over there," says young Mr. Blinders, incoherently.
"Him? What do you mean?" shrieks Miss Pye.
"Mean?" says young Mr. Blinders, "why, just the very saddle-horse for your hundred dollars".
"I thought you wanted to run away with me!" screamed Miss Pye, quite forgetting herself.
There is a sound in the air as of the emphatic naming of a Holy City of the Orient; in fact, the emphasized syllables are those of " Jerusalem! " and a manly form is seen in the faint moonlight to make rapid strides across the road.
"Tch - tch - tch - he! he! he!" comes from one poplar tree inside the gate.
"Tch - tch - tch - te-he! te-he!" comes from behind another poplar tree inside the gate.
Two plump female shapes come from behind two poplar trees inside the gate and surround a third female shape, while a swift horseman clatters furiously past the outside of the gate, and disappears.
O Miss Pye! Miss Margaret Pye! how are you now, my pretty dear? "What's this? Where are you?" Why, this is the hand of your Cousin Minerva trying to pour some more water into your mouth; and you are in - Vermont !
At the termination of this jockeylar story in honor of the known equineinity of the subject of the toast, there was much hearty laughter by everybody except those beside myself; but the hilarity was both general and unseemly when I subsequently spoke in terms of glowing eulogy concerning one whose sterling worth was yet to be acknowledged; whose qualification for the most remunerative office could not be questioned; and whose name - said I-is Orpheus C. Kerr.